Next Article in Journal
Communication and the Narrative Basis of Sustainability: Observations from the Municipal Water Sector
Previous Article in Journal
The Use of Visual Decision Support Tools in an Interactive Stakeholder Analysis—Old Ports as New Magnets for Creative Urban Development
Previous Article in Special Issue
Sustainability of Wastewater Treatment and Excess Sludge Handling Practices in the Federated States of Micronesia
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Sustainability 2013, 5(10), 4406-4427;

Sustaining Sanak Island, Alaska: A Cultural Land Trust

Department of Anthropology, Idaho State University, Stop 8005, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
Idaho Museum of Natural History, Idaho State University, Stop 8096, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 July 2013 / Revised: 9 October 2013 / Accepted: 10 October 2013 / Published: 17 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Islands—A Pacific Perspective)
Full-Text   |   PDF [552 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]   |  


Sanak Island is the easternmost of the Aleutian Islands and was inhabited by the Aleut (Unangan) peoples for nearly 7000 years. The past few centuries of Sanak Island life for its Aleut residents can be summarized from ethnohistoric documents and extensive interviews with former residents as shifting local-global economic patterns beginning with the sea otter fur trade, followed by cod and salmon fishing, fox farming, and cattle ranching through waves of Russian, American, and Scandinavian authority and/or influence. As the industries changed and the island absorbed new peoples with new goals, Aleut identity and practices also changed as part of these shifting economic and social environments. Sanak Island was abandoned in the 1970s and although uninhabited today, Sanak Island is managed as an important land trust for the island’s descendants that serves local peoples as a marine-scape rich in resources for Aleut subsistence harvesting and as a local heritage site where people draw on the diverse historical influences and legacies. Further, this move from an industrial heritage to contemporary local subsistence economies facilitated by a commercial fishing industry is a unique reversal of development in the region with broad implications for community sustainability among indigenous communities. We find that by being place-focused, rather than place-based, community sustainability can be maintained even in the context of relocation and the loss of traditional villages. This will likely become more common as indigenous peoples adapt to globalization and the forces of global change. View Full-Text
Keywords: Aleut; Sanak Island; fisheries; sustainability; resilience; historical ecology; land trust Aleut; Sanak Island; fisheries; sustainability; resilience; historical ecology; land trust

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Reedy-Maschner, K.L.; Maschner, H.D.G. Sustaining Sanak Island, Alaska: A Cultural Land Trust. Sustainability 2013, 5, 4406-4427.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top