In his final major publication, Ernest S. “Tiger” Burch, Jr. reconstructs the distribution of caribou herds in northwest Alaska using data and information from research conducted over the past several decades as well as sources that predate western science by more than one hundred years. Additionally, he explores human and natural factors that contributed to the demise and recovery of caribou and reindeer populations during this time. Burch provides an exhaustive list of published and unpublished literature and interviews that will intrigue laymen and experts alike. The unflinching assessment of the roles that humans and wolves played in the dynamics of caribou and reindeer herds will undoubtedly strike a nerve. Supplemental essays before and after the unfinished work add context about the author, the project of the book, and the importance of both.
Ernest S. “Tiger” Burch, Jr. was a social anthropologist specializing in the early historical social organization of Eskimo peoples. He was an advisor to the US Arctic Research Commission and a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council.
Igor Krupnik is the curator of arctic and northern ethnology at the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
Jim Dau is a caribou research/management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
This work is a reminder of how much Burch's voice—the social anthropologist versed in the biological sciences, with an ethnohistorian's appreciation of oral evidence— will be missed.
—Shepard Krech III, Brown University
The book makes a significant contribution to Alaskan history, the social sciences, and human wildlife ecology... One is impressed with the tenacity, courage, and imagination it must have taken to write this book.
The importance of this volume goes well beyond the immediate subject. Burch skillfully demonstrates how local knowledge can be couple with ecological science to gain a more complete understanding of wildlife population dynamics. The book thoroughly cites the scientific literature and painstakingly evaluates the validity, or lack thereof, of local knowledge sources. . . . Highly recommended.