Skip to main content


Argetsinger, Timothy & West, Colin Thor (2009). Yupiit Subsistence in Western Alaska: The Intersection of Formal and Local Institutions. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, 5(1), 67-82.


Anthropologists have long studied the subsistence economies of indigenous peoples of Alaska. These studies have documented in great detail the importance of subsistence foods in the diet and culture of Alaska Natives. In more recent years, anthropologists have begun to investigate how formal rules used by state and federal agencies conflict with local norms, customs, and values as practiced by Alaska Natives. We call these latter rules “local institutions.” This paper traces the historical development of formal rules for subsistence harvesting and discusses current controversies using case study fieldwork from indigenous communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of western Alaska. We confirm that tensions exist between formal regulations and local institutions but add that these tensions also lead to conflict between communities over subsistence resources.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Ecological and Environmental Anthropology


Argetsinger, Timothy
West, Colin Thor


West, CT - 0000-0002-0123-2896