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exhaustive list of published and unpublished literature and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.