Lunchtime Talk: Navigating at a double crossroads: The role of subsistence in the wellbeing of Dena’ina Athabascan youth

Jennifer Shaw, PhD (Case Western Reserve, 2013) is a Senior Researcher at Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, where she conducts research on youth suicide prevention, healthcare decision-making, and the development of culturally grounded health services. Her research interests are in medical anthropology, social determinants of health, and cross-cultural childhood and adolescence.

She will talk about the role of subsistence in the well-being of Dena’ina Athabascan youths growing up in Southwestern Alaska. How do subsistence and other cultural activities fit into the lives and aspirations of contemporary Dena’ina youths living in rural Alaska? What factors impede or facilitate their ability to achieve these aspirations in the transition to adulthood? Dr. Shaw conducted an ethnographic case study with 19 youths in one Dena’ina village, which showed that despite concerns about Alaska Native youths’ commitment to culture, this group deeply identifies with their tradition and aspires to continue these activities into adulthood, despite significant obstacles in their paths.

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