Six Decades at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Douglas Veltre – Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Alaska Anchorage

Doug and his wife Kathie in a remote cabin on Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands in 1999.

I arrived as a mostly unfocused freshman at Brown in the fall of 1966, considering a major in psychology or math.  After one semester I lost interest in the former, and a year of terror in calculus disabused me of a future in the latter. How I ended up in a beginning anthropology class during my second semester is lost to memory, but from then on, I was hooked.

Most influential to me were classes with James Deetz and Douglas Anderson.  With Jim, I took part in archaeological field work at Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, and in the town of Plymouth.  With Doug, I was introduced to the Haffenreffer Museum, where he held some of his classes on the North and where I did volunteer work for him and for the museum.  Especially over my last two years at Brown, I spent more and more time there, getting to know Barbara Hail and the staff as well as Bets Giddings and her family.  I wrote a senior honors thesis on an analysis of stone tools from Onion Portage, a famous Alaskan archaeological site where Doug, and before him Louis Giddings, had worked.

After graduation from Brown in 1970, I took a year off, first spending a year living and working on archaeological digs in England and then thumbing around Europe.  While I traveled, I submitted applications to graduate school.  I wanted somehow to combine the interest in historical archaeology I had gained from Jim and my fascination with Alaskan archaeology from Doug.

In 1971, I entered the graduate program in anthropology at the University of Connecticut, where I was to be part of a large-scale multidisciplinary project that had gotten underway the year before.  After having been captivated by so many wonderful stories of the North from Doug Anderson, I was finally on my way to the remote Aleutian Islands, in far southwestern Alaska!  Two summers of work on that project led in 1974 both to my own Ph.D. field research in the Aleutians as well as to a teaching position with the University of Alaska in Anchorage.  Since then, I have returned to the Aleutians, and to Alaska’s similarly remote Pribilof Islands, many times.  Over the decades, much of my research and teaching was guided by the inspirations of James Deetz and Doug Anderson and by my wonderful experiences at the Haffenreffer Museum.

Douglas Veltre received a B.A. in Anthropology from Brown and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut.  His research centers on the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Unanga (Aleut) people of southwestern Alaska. He has been a consultant on matters relating to archaeology, cultural heritage, and repatriation to local and regional Unanga groups, and he has served as both President and member of the Board of Directors of the Alaska Anthropological Association and as Chair of the Anthropology Department.  He is currently a member of the Alaska Historical Commission. He is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he taught from 1974 to 2008 and still teaches occasional classes.  He lives in Anchorage with his wife Kathie and dog Jessie.

1 Comment

  1. Conhecimento

    This is amazing

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