Nunivak Island; Internet; Research; Humans

Published 2015-04-09

I got an email today from the granddaughter of a famous Nunivak Islander who was an important information source for my graduate research. (Unfortunately I had never met him, he had died about five years before I was on Nunivak. He informed my work through transcripts and secondary sources.)

Anyway, couple thoughts.

One, I am still amazed how the Internet can connect people in this way.

Two, if you have original research of any kind and it is not bound by copyright, please put it on the Internet! Not Wikipedia, but on a for-real web page, where Wikipedians or someone else can use it. Even your tossed-off grad school papers may be gold to someone somewhere.

Three. This is weird and abstract. But the old people I spoke with on Nunivak Island in 1996 were among the last living people to have grown up living a lifestyle we would describe as “stone age hunter gatherers.” (I think this description is reductive. A more accurate description might be “entirely unconnected to capital economies.” But I digress.) Most of those people are probably now dead. For hundreds of thousands of years all human beings lived like that; and now none of us do. There is something deeply spiritually sad about that. It's as if we all agreed lions should be vegetarians and then in the span of a century or so we got all the lions on Earth to stop eating meat.