15 December 2011


I was sad to learn of the death of Deanna Paniataaq Kingston, a prominent pioneer in Arctic social sciences and author of the interactive website, the King Island Placename Project. From her OSU obituary:

Oregon State University faculty member Deanna Kingston, an anthropologist, died Friday (Dec. 2) after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was 47.

King Island, Alaska. Credit: Dave Cohoe via Wikimedia Commons.

Deanna's family is Inupiat from King Island, Alaska, and she dedicated her career to studying and honoring the culture of her ancestors. From the National Science Foundation press release

Deanna was a pioneer in exploring the intersections of Native knowledge and Western science and ways to combine attributes from both domains for the betterment of all and especially for her beloved community of King Island.

HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. Credit: algaedoc Ken Clifton via Flickr.

I was lucky enough to spend an extraordinary weekend with Deanna last year. We were attending a symposium, Dragonfly Eyes: Multiple Ways to Envision the Future, a gathering of poets, philosophers, writers, scientists, and architects, hosted by the Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University. 

The symposium convened at the Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascade Range of Oregon—a beautiful place, where we all felt keenly the ephemeral nature of time. Deanna seemed to radiate with that knowledge.

Later, she posted to her blog a poem she wrote while at the Andrews:

By Deanna Paniataaq Kingston
Moss is writing its story on the tree
Like the Willamette River in the past
Sending tendrils to different places
Creating patterns of swirls and squiggles
It is not a violent invasion
It is a peaceful negotiation
To coexist together on the land
We must send our tendrils into the world

I look forward to her forthcoming book from Oregon State University press, Niglarugut Ugiuvangmiuguruagut: We King Islanders are Wolf Dancing.

Credit: hannanik via Flickr.
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