This presentation is part of the Proceedings of the Maritime Cultural Landscape Symposium, October 14-15, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Daina Penkiunas: All right, next person up is Brendan Carter, from Land to Sea or Sea to Land, recognizing key features of terrestrial and maritime landscapes. Brendan is the chief of resources at Shuka National Historical Park, the only national park service unit to commemorate Tlingit resistance European colonial expansion, the expansion of Czarist Russia, and the living native culture of Southeast Alaska. Previously, he was the Cultural Resource Program Manager at the Delaware Water Gap national recreation area, and a museum specialist and archaeologist at the southeast archaeological center. He’s always studied the archaeology of submerged sites, and has advanced degrees in nautical archaeology, and pre-historic underwater archaeology. Welcome.
Brendan Carter: All right. You’ll have to excuse me, I changed my presentation somewhat between when I submitted the abstract, and the first version of the presentation until now, so I decided it would be deadly boring to just talk about from land to sea, or sea to land, so I couched it, and Alaska Maritime Cultural Landscapes. You’ll see me tacking … I’m going to essentially be blown between 2 winds, the method and theory wind, and the sort of practical, here’s the landscape wind. You’ll see me tack back and forth through the presentation, so stay with me, please. Thinking about this, I wanted to start with a definition, because they’re all often good to start with. I found our National Park Service definition of what a cultural landscape is, and I just wanted to go over it for review.
It’s a geographic area that’s either associated with a historic event activity or person, or exhibiting some other cultural value or aesthetic value. You have to meet those basic characteristics. I also went back and reviewed Westerdol, and he sees it kind of in a more … It’s still focused on the past, but it clearly refers to ongoing cultural values. Note that in its definition, it’s focused on remains. The other thing I picked up in this is there may be a subtly in the Swedish in the word remains, that doesn’t translate well into English. If anybody knows Swedish, and can look at that word remains, it may have connotations that aren’t effectively brought over into the English. It may have as much to do with ethnographic remains, as archaeological and architectural remains, which were material as well. Seem to very interested in. Now I’m tacking back to Alaska, or the practical stuff.
Alaska’s huge, it’s 1.7 million square kilometers. Traditionally, Alaska’s population has been really tiny. The first accurate population numbers, well they may or may not be accurate, are from 1880, when they did the census. There were a little over 33 thousand people in Alaska at that point. Even today, there are only 710 thousand people, and the scale there is deceiving, it’s about twice the size of Texas, so keep that in mind. One of the things that a small population in a large area yields, is a premium on inner-community awareness and relationships. Also, a high degree of mobility, and trusted connections across that mobile area, so that you can go a long distance, and know somebody in the community that you go to that’s a trusted person, that can put you up, feed you, that type of thing. I didn’t really appreciate that until I moved there, because from the lower 48, you don’t really have … Your type of community’s different. It tends to be much more geographically centralized. You have groups of friends in a local community.
Your community doesn’t necessarily extend over vast distances into other communities, not necessarily. Another thing, is that trade is assumed to be widespread and relatively regular. There’s a regular round to Alaskan life, where you move from place to place, from a winter quarters, to a summer subsistence camp, and so on. Subsistence resources on the other hand, are highly territorial, and vigorously defended. In other words, you may have people in other communities that you visit, but when it comes down to the resources you want to harvest for your subsistence, those are very territorial in nature. My objectives of this is to show that Alaska is a cultural landscape, to show that maritime Alaska is a Maritime Cultural Landscape overlaying multiple marine ethnographic landscapes, and to show that the most important aspects of maritime cultural landscapes are overall historical significance and physical integrity, not individual landscape characteristics, which I think are more units of analysis, rather than actual items.
I was going to do a little overview, but I’ll skip that. This is back on the theoretical side of things. I was really interested in this idea of cognitive landscapes, that Westerdal went into. I don’t know … Has anyone ever used Google Suggest? Do you guys know what that is, does anyone know what that is? When you punch terms into Google, it automatically shows you a list that you can pick from. That’s Google Suggest, and there’s a great little program online called SEER, that will take 2 Google Suggest terms, and compare them, and show you the relationship between the terms. It’s really useful for marketing, because it allows you, as a marketer, to figure out what people are thinking of, or what people are looking for, when you put a particular word in there and search for it. I thought this would be a great little tool to figure out what the connections are between cultural landscapes and maritime landscapes.
I started using SEER to see if I could figure out what those relationships were. The first thing I did, is I compared cultural landscapes, and maritime landscapes. What things pop out at you right away, there’s no relationship. People who are looking for cultural landscapes are not looking for maritime landscapes, and people who are looking for maritime landscapes aren’t looking for cultural landscapes. That shows me, or I would conclude from that, that it’s not an overlapping set. There’s not much discussion there, there’s not much cognition in the general public about the connection between maritime landscapes and cultural landscapes. The other interesting thing here, if anybody here is interested in a job, you notice the most common thing that people are looking for when they look for maritime landscapes is services. You want to start a contract business, I would go into maritime landscape services.
Like you might imagine, if you think about Westerdal, and Swedish archaeology, maritime landscapes have a very high prominence in Swedish archaeology. I compared Swedish archaeology and maritime landscapes, and we got a little bit of a connection. It’s what you might expect. Less connection from Swedish archaeology to maritime landscapes, but quite a bit the other direction. I then looked at the Maritime Sanctuary Program, and the National Register Program. You can see that there is some connection there, but about the same that you see for Swedish archaeology. Here, this where it becomes very interesting. Where’s Hans? I thought, Alaska and Hawaii are kind of twin states, way out there in the Pacific. We have a lot of cultural connections. I thought I’d do that, and you can start to see there’s a much stronger relationship than Alaska and Hawaii. Between the concept between maritime landscapes, and Hawaiian and Alaskan archaeology. That’s an important point.
I wanted to back check my information, because you start using some of these tools, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing sometimes. I checked archaeology and nautical archaeology against each other, and yeah, this kind of makes senses. People are interested in jobs, they’re interested in what the salary is, and they’re interested in how to get a degree. My sort of off the cuff interpretation of this was, everybody’s got to make a living, and can I make a living doing either nautical archaeology or archaeology? With that in mind, I just wanted to review this definition we’ve already seen it. Is Alaska a cultural landscape? It’s a geographic area, that’s absolutely true, I should probably catch up here. Let’s see, it’s associated with a historic event, I thought I’d put the check in there that bought Alaska. 7.2 million dollars.
It’s funny, I live in Sitca now, and the United States paid about 200 thousand dollars extra, over 7 million dollars, because there was an ice plant in Sitca, that was the only source for ice for San Francisco, up until the purchase. The Russians had been supplying ice for San Francisco, and it was a very lucrative market, obviously. They paid an extra 200 thousand for Alaska, just because of that. It’s also associated with the resumption of Manifest Destiny, and the Gold Rush, the western pacific exploration, and also whaling. We’ve already talked about that somewhat. Also, the expansion of fishery. It’s definitely associated with an activity, a very important activity. It’s also associated with one of the most important diplomats in American history, William Seward. He was the visionary leader that had the idea that they could buy Alaska from Russia.
One of the things that he’s credited with is reinvigorating the Manifest Destiny, or the prominence of America on the world stage after the Civil War, and Alaska played a major role in that. I think I’ve shown Alaska as a cultural landscape. I wanted to go over kind of what that landscape looks like. I went in, and sort of blocked out the area of Alaska where you didn’t have a major influence of the sea, and you can see both from the amount of area that is on the coast, and connected by the ocean, and also the major river systems in Alaska, that clearly, a majority of Alaska, if not two thirds of Alaska is all some type of Maritime Influence Landscape. That really overlays with a number of language groups, and ethnographic landscapes, that were very prominent as late as the mid 1700’s and many of them continue today. About 30 percent of Alaska’s population is native Alaskan, and most of the folks still strongly associate with these basic language groups, and cultural groups.
The cultural landscape of Alaska is overlayed on these ethnographic landscapes. When I got to Alaska, we had a couple of projects cued up for funding. One was the Russian Bishop’s house, cultural landscape report. The other was … Actually we only had that one. I thought that it would be deadly boring to just study the Russian Bishop’s house in Sitca, Alaska as a cultural landscape, because it’s about an acre of land and 3 buildings. There are 3 buildings in a little cluster. I said why not repurpose that, and talk more broadly about what the ecclesiastical landscape of Russian America would look like, and how would it contribute to the use of the Russian Bishop’s house in Sitca, because we’re charged with the studying, we’re the only unit in the park service that studies Russian America, so why not use the cultural landscape money that we get, and have a broader focus.
I right now got a number of folks that are looking at Russian American Orthodox landscapes all across Alaska, and how they’re connected, and how they contribute to the significance of the Russian Bishop’s house, and the landscape in Sitca. The other thing that I was very interested in was expansion of the commercial landscape, and we funded a Maritime Cultural Landscape project to study the commercial landscape of Russian America, and the expansion of Russian companies into Alaska, and that includes significant resources like the Erskin House and the Berinoff Castle in Sitca. They both have parallels, so they’re going to end up being merged together.
I’m going to tack back, and talk about the various things that you would find in a typical cultural landscape. These are basically characteristics, so I don’t think I have to go through them too intensively, and they’re straight from landscape line, so you can look them up. I’d also mentioned that the characteristics of the landscape had changed, so there’s an evolutionary aspect to it that’s important to recognize. That means that we can evolve into something else, we can talk about something else if we want to. I wanted to figure out where maritime landscapes fits into this broad NPS perspective. The important thing here is there’s some things that change, and there’s some things that stay the same, and I wanted to use this as an example in Sitca. This is the development of Sitca early on. That area there is from 1804, and is 1867, so you can see a development of a commercial landscape here, but with elements of it changing, and elements staying the same. I think that’s important to recognize.
This is just a brief review of Westerdal’s characteristics. Here’s the nuts and bolts of the theory part of it. I tried to figure out how these could be merged into some sort of system that would work for Maritime Cultural Landscapes, using characteristics from cultural landscapes, and some of them maritime cultural landscape features that Westerdal does. You have natural features and systems, you could work that as maritime ecosystems and features. Land use is fishing grounds, coastal industry. Cultural traditions, what Westerdal would call cognitive landscape would be maritime traditions, and maritime ethnography. You could use circulation, has kind of a special meaning and nautical terms, they would be maritime routes and water-site circulation. Westerdal would call those network of sailing routes. Topography, essentially we can go through this, I can give you my presentation so you can review them at your leisure. There are some specific sea terms that I think need to be included. Things that are a part of a maritime landscape, that aren’t typically talked about in cultural landscapes.
Those are celestial features. What a star field looks like at sea, because it’s critical for navigation and way finding, and it has a special meaning in the pacific islands where there’s different systems of navigation. You need to have a special category for winds, waves, currents, and ice. Those are typically used as well for navigation, but are also special conditions at sea. You also need to have some sort of special consideration of weather, because weather makes all the difference when you’re at sea. With that, I wanted to sort of switch back and talk about significance and integrity. I think significance and integrity are as important, or more important than what I talked about before, because the characteristics are really ontological terms, and aren’t really a substitute for the actual resources you see in the field. At some point in the future, you’ll see some sort of updating of the Russian American NHL theme study to incorporate ecclesiastical landscapes and commercial landscapes of Russian America.