Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Joseph Lanning


In Alaska, subsistence is a way of life for some communities. The Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) oversees the Federal Subsistence Management Program. One of its responsibilities is to determine areas as subsistence or non-subsistence areas. This decision, in part, is based on whether subsistence is a “principal characteristic of the economy, culture, and way of life”. (James A. Fall, Division of Subsistence, 2018). The federal policy grants these communities priority in the taking of wild resources (Title VIII of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act). Interviews revealed factors of vulnerability and resilience, specifically in the context of subsistence. Scoones (1998) defines resilience simply as the capability of a person and their livelihood to "cope with and recover from stresses and shocks.” Kirmayer et al. (2011) further define resilience in a cultural context as the “ability to do well despite adversity.”

Interview findings revealed food insecurity in Ketchikan due to a lack of local production and unreliable supply lines from the lower 48 states. Further, some respondents mentioned uncertainty of supply longevity in grocery store shelves due to increases in tourist activity during the summer season. Priority harvest can serve as a livelihood supplement, buffering against food insecurity and creating strong social networks. It can also serve as a medium for the transmission of cultural values and practices. This research asks what role subsistence plays in an isolated, mixed community of Alaska Natives and non-Natives in Southeast Alaska, what pressures they experience on their livelihoods and the potential that a rural determination and subsistence priority have in sustaining quasi-rural livelihoods.


Development Studies | Environmental Studies | Food Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology