Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Liam Frink

Second Committee Member

Karen Harry

Third Committee Member

Jiemin Bao

Fourth Committee Member

Sheila Bock

Number of Pages



This thesis examines Native Alaskan personal names and naming practices and how these names are being used to index cultural identity in Anchorage, Alaska. In order to do this, I follow Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of heteroglossia (1981), which states all words are populated with meaning from all of the contexts in which they have been used in the past. Native Alaskan personal names should be considered heteroglossic based on the Yup'ik/Cup'ik and Inupiaq beliefs that personal names are a type of soul that carries with it the characteristics of a person who uses it. When that person dies, the name-soul detaches from their body, taking with it the individual's personality characteristics to be passed on to the next person who will carry the name. Native Alaskan personal names are, therefore, imbued with the history of all their previous uses and contexts. Because my use of heteroglossia depends on the historical uses of names, the colonial history of the Native Alaskan groups must also be taken into consideration. In addition to illustrating how Native Alaskans use their personal names to index cultural identity, the results and discussion will also show how these names reflect different boundaries Native Alaskans face while living in an urban area: between life and death; between past and present; between young and old; and between native and non-native ways of life.


Alaska Natives; Cultural history; Cultural identity; Group identity; Heteroglossia; Names; Ethnological; Names; Personal; Naming politics; Native Alaskans; Onomastics


Indigenous Studies | Linguistics | Social and Cultural Anthropology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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