chapter  7
17 Pages

Alaska

WithAlice Beck Kehoe

This chapter describes the Arctic Coast and the Subarctic zones. The Arctic Coast from Pacific Alaska across Canada through Greenland is inhabited by nations speaking Eskimo languages, and formerly called “Eskimo.” Early Holocene occupations in Alaska are referred to as Paleo-Arctic, and are similar to those on the Siberian side of the Pacific. Most sites appear to have been campsites, often on river banks high enough to be above the worst of the mosquitoes, but not so high that shrub thicket covered them; some sites are on high overlooks commanding river valleys or the coast. Pottery was the striking innovation of the first millennium bce in western Alaska, as in the Eastern Woodlands. Alaska’s first potters seem more skilled than those who made Early Woodland-type pots in the East; the craft dates back to the Terminal Pleistocene in Siberia, almost certainly the source for introducing ceramics into Alaska.