Although significant intermingling of Alaska Natives with "outsiders" has occurred since Russian colonization from the mid-1700s, relatively little literature addresses the effect of population admixture on ethnic identity of Alaska's indigenous people. The straight-line theory of assimilation purports that intermarriage and loss of mother tongue herald the demise of a distinct socio-cultural group. Loss of usage of most of Alaska's Native languages and the high rate of Native-non-Native intermarriage, particularly following World War 11, conform to conditions suggestive of assimilation. The dearth of research on this subject in urban Alaska seems to point to tacit agreement with the straight-line theory by social scientists. This article juxtaposes content areas for inquiry from two recent studies of ethnicity with data from a pilot study of 12 Alaska Natives in Anchorage to provide a broader context for the study's results and as a means to ponder more fruitful areas for future research. The Anchorage data revealed scant content on specific Native traditions or customs, but indicated the presence of many aspects of "symbolic" culture and social affiliation, resonant with Keefe's (1992) view that such features reflect the tenacity of ethnic groups rather than signaling their end.
"Symbolic Ethnicity" and Alaska Natives of Mixed Ancestry Living in Anchorage: Enduring Group or a Sign of Impending Assimilation?
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Julie Sprott; "Symbolic Ethnicity" and Alaska Natives of Mixed Ancestry Living in Anchorage: Enduring Group or a Sign of Impending Assimilation?. Human Organization 1 December 1994; 53 (4): 311–322. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.53.4.y33p52n817466155
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