The Macksey Journal


On February 26, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge declared Glacier Bay National Monument by way of a presidential proclamation. The benefits of declaring a national monument versus a national park had been debated by the primary lobbyist of the enterprise, the Ecological Society of America (ESA), with no consideration for the Tlingit communities already inhabiting the area. Biologists and geologists, eager to study Glacier Bay’s unique features, considered Indigenous subsistence practices an interference. To ensure the wilderness was as “natural” as possible, these practices, such as seal hunting and berry gathering, were criminalized. Conservation officers and other forms of park police served to protect the scientists’ laboratories, and thus established scientific inquiry as a form of colonial control in Southeastern Alaska. This paper will investigate how scientific researchers were complicit in and depended on the policing of Indigenous subsistence practices for the sake of maintaining a pristine laboratory for their work.