The story of the Andersons started 60 years before the making of this film. The pair have spent years in the Arctic, uncovering the past and capturing the oral histories of those who came before.  Their work helps us grasp what survival was like for the Iñupiaq people that traversed this part of Alaska for over 10,000 years.

Douglas Anderson on archaeological survey, Kelly River, 1967

Douglas D. Anderson is Professor Emeritus in Anthropology at Brown University, where he earned his MA degree before going on to the University of Pennsylvania for his Ph. D. in 1967. He taught at Brown University since 1967 and has spent more than 50 years conducting ethnographic and archaeological research in northwestern Alaska, especially in the Kobuk and Selawik river areas. His research remains focused on the trade economics of early Arctic people groups as revealed in the tools and materials found at the various excavations throughout his career.  Continuing the work of Dr. Louis Giddings, Anderson’s work contributed to the knowledge of near constant occupation of Arctic Alaska for more than 10,000 years. He is also the Director of the Laboratory for Circumpolar Studies at Brown University and has served on several committees for Arctic research, some including - Member Representative, Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS); Steering Committee, Arctic Science Center, U.S. National Musuem; Smithsonian Institution, Committee on Arctic Social Sciences; Polar Research Board, National Research Council; Coordinator, Cutural Progam, and the Scientific Advisory Committee, National Geographic Society and U.S. National Park Service on the subject of Early Man Studies in the New World.  


Wanni Anderson and Clara Lee, Onion Portage, 1967

Wanni W. Anderson is currently adjunct professor of anthropology (research). Brown University where she has taught since 1988 in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of American Studies. She also served for 6 years as associate director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. Her research in northwest Alaska began in 1966 as a member of the NSF-funded Brown University archeological excavation at Onion Portage. It was on the Kobuk River and in Selawik village that her ethnographic and folkloric research were centered, culminating in three book publications: Kuuvangmiut Subsistence: Traditional Eskimo Life in the Twentieth Century (Douglas D. Anderson et al. 1988), the bilingual English/Iñupiaq Folktales of the Riverine and Coastal Inupiat (2003), and The Dall Sheep Dinner Guest (2005). Her latest project is an oral history research of the people of the abandoned 200-year old site, Igliqtiqsiugvirauq, in the middle of the Kobuk River. 


The relationships that the Anderson's formed over their sixty years of research with the Iñupiaq people of this region, created a unique environment of friendship and trust, resulting in a wealth of material that offers insight into Alaska's past.