Personhood, discourse, emotion, and environment in a Tlingit village
This dissertation observes ways of speaking about environment and community in Kake, a Native Tlingit village on Kupreanof Island in Southeast Alaska. The study investigates the functions and values of legal/regulatory and economic linguistic resources that travel through time and space, linking Kake to other sites, regional, national, and international. In light of increasing environmental issues world wide, the study examines how legal and regulatory processes influence beliefs about community and environment as a whole. Within the dissertation are case studies to show how local, day-to-day, community and environment-related narratives interact with state discourses. The study asks how words and stories in everyday conversations express and interpret the extent to which local Kake people feel emotion and responsibility for their forest and marine environment and each other. In addition, the study asks how people communicate their narratives about place, community, and work to government representatives, who converse using their own specialized language, narrative, and discourse rules. How, in turn, do local groups interpret and react to law-making and regulatory narratives? In the context of social attributes that help communities focus on sustainable livelihood strategies and the importance of environmental integrity, the study assesses what types of information get left out of discourses between local island people and state representatives. Communicating with official government agency personnel in public hearings, through documents, and in reaction to state decisions, influences changes in local words, stories and perceptions about people and place. The discursive and ideological adjustments that result can enhance or detract from local narratives that socialize moral codes and attachment to community and environment.