Did humans cross the Pacific Ocean during prehistoric times?
Did they navigate around the Pacific Rim?
What is the evidence?
How compelling are these data?
Join us as Oceanographers, Native American Scholars, Anthropologists and other experts discuss these intriguing questions.
Paths Across the Pacific Conferences began in Sitka in 2002. They have been leading the way in reporting and evaluating scientific evidence of human migrations across the world’s oceans.
Human mobility along coasts, between islands and across ocean expanses is being documented by increasingly sophisticated scientific data. By bringing together an unusual and creative mix of scholars with cutting-edge concepts, Paths Across the Pacific has given these ideas momentum.
Island coasts and tidal zones. Ocean currents, gyres and eddies. Catastrophes and human responses. Navigational knowledge and maritime mobility. Native traditions, continuity, and new information. We are connected by our shared seas and their resources. Thoughtful discussion enhances our common humanity.
Paths Across the Pacific VIII conference in 2013 will continue a unique exchange of ideas from many academic sciences in the magnificent, friendly setting of Sitka, a small town on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska. Ideas from Native American knowledge, Archaeology. Oceanography, Molecular Anthropology, Geology, Linguistics, and Marine Biology, will merge and mix through our special interest in human migrations on, across and around our planet’s oceans. Water, time, genes, history and ideas link us all, differently, creatively and periodically. In what directions might our explorations take us next?
N. Y. Davis, Chair
As of 1/14/13
August 14 Wednesday
Time tba – KCAW – Flotsam Hour
6 p.m. Registration
7 p.m. Opening Reception
August 15 Thursday
8 a.m. Registration
9 a.m. Ocean Currents and Gyres: Earthquakes, Tsunami And Debris
12 Lunch – on your own
2 p.m. Disasters and Human Migrations
5 p.m. Dinner on your own
8 p.m. Featured Speaker
August 16 Friday
9 a.m. Island and Coastal Archaeology
11:30 Participants Group photo
1:30 p.m. Beachcombing Trip
2 p.m. Local Tours (if not going on Trip)
Museums, boat house, hikes, kayaking, biking, shopping, etc
6 p.m. Dinner on your own
8 p.m. Featured Speaker
August 17 Saturday
10 to 12 a.m. Marine Resources and Human Mobility
12 Lunch on your own
1 p.m. Wildlife viewing tour
2 p.m. Kayaks, Canoes, Rafts, Boats and Navigational Knowledge
6 p.m. Conference Dinner
Music, Dance and Poetry: Filipino, Hawaiian, Alaska Native
8 p.m. Featured Speaker
August 18 Sunday
8 a.m. Wildlife viewing/ beachcombing tour
10 a.m. Closing panel discussion
12 noon to 4 p.m. Beachcombers’ Fair
Richard T. Callaghan, Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Topic: To be announced
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D., Oceanographer, Consultant.
Author of Flotsametrics and the Floating World and editor of Beachcombers’ Alert
Topic: Japanese Tsunami Debris
Serge Dunis, French Anthropologist, University of French Polynesia, Tahiti.
Author of Pacific Mythology, Thy Name is Woman
Topic: Human Migrations across the Oceans: The Mythological Routes
Stephen Jett, Ph.D., Geographer, Emeritus Professor, University of California, Davis
Author and editor: Precolumbiana
Topic: Why Leave Home? Motives for Transoceanic Crossings”
Brian Kemp, Ph.D., Molecular Anthropologist
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, and School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University
Topic: Genetics and Native American Prehistory
Frank A. Norick, Ph.D., Retired Anthropologist/Archaeologist, University of California Berkeley.
Topic: Comments from a Skeptic
Thomas Royer, Ph.D., Oceanography, Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Topic: Convergence of Technology, Materials, Mariner Skills and Desire: Early Boat Voyages to Alaska
Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D., Division of Humanities, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington
Topic: To be announced
Darina Tully, Marine Archaeologist, Ireland Co-ordinator of Maritime Archaeology Studies at Saor-Ollscoil Nah Eireann and Senior Tutor in Ireland for the Nautical Archaeology Society.
Topic: The Use and Tradition of Skin Boats in Ireland in the 21st Century
Judith Williams, Visual and Textual Artist, Department of Art History, University of British Columbia Author: Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast.
Topic: Clam Gardens North to Alaska; http://www.judithmwilliams.com
907-966-2266 in Sitka.
Alaska Marine Highway
P.O. Box 25535
Juneau, Alaska 99802-5535
907-747-8737 in Sitka
For B&Bs, please check with the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Please visit this website for a list of Sitka restaurants with addresses and phone numbers http://travelsitka.com/dining.html
Visit Sitka Through Four Seasons at www.travelsitka.com for ideas of what to do in Sitka.
Rich, renewable foods along the tidal areas; sea mammals, birds and fish in front of glaciers; uplifted coasts, changing sea levels, periodic earthquakes and tsunami. This interdisciplinary discussion engaged indigenous knowledge, oceanography, geology and anthropology to assess new information and raise new questions.
Native oral traditions, modern sailing experiences, maps and distances, contemporary sciences on fisheries, currents and winds provided topics for this discussion.
Amerind and Austronesian? Mayan and Chinese? Japanese and Zuni? Phonemes and Vocabulary. Syntax and grammar. Borrowed words or accidental similarities? Possible connections in the past? Or indicators of human capacity for independent linguistic innovations? How shall we begin these conversations?
If there is evidence from botany, if there are similar words associated with the plants, if there are specific genetic features and cultural items suggesting prehistoric connections, how do we establish criteria and paradigms to assess significance? At what point is the evidence compelling? How much data in how many different sciences does it take to have a case worth investigating further?
What does it take to navigate ocean coasts and seas? If homo sapiens were coastal dwellers 50,000 years ago with the same genetically-based intelligence as modern humans have today, what would have prevented them from venturing out on the oceans -- and surviving?
If we can manage coasts and seas today in simple craft, why not also during prehistoric times? Perhaps a case can be made we are dumber now than we were then. Certainly navigational skills, survival knowledge, and information on tracking distances through stars have atrophied in the last century as global urbanization captures and confines us in dense city masses often far away from the seas. Recent revitalization of small watercraft reminds us of what fun they can be, and challenges us to reconnect with our shared oceans.
What roles have periodic disasters played in the distribution and redistribution of people across the planet? How many times during our hominid pasts have massive earthquakes set off destructive tsunami, wiping out coastal communities and forcing survivors to relocate? Might tsunami of the past sent humans, clinging to debris, safely to islands near and far? The lessons of the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami sharpen our awareness of our vulnerability to surprises. Disasters present a challenge to think about how hazards of the past rearranged our species and related ecosystems. Might volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami, droughts, epidemics, and El Ninos be major sources of dispersal across oceans and along coasts?