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Langdon Selected 2012 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence Winner

Steve J. Langdon, professor of anthropology for the University of Alaska Anchorage, is this year’s recipient of the University of Alaska Foundation’s prestigious Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. The Bullock Prize for Excellence includes a cash award and is the largest single award made annually by the UA Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“The purpose of the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence is to shine the light on individuals that demonstrate excellence in support of the university. As the University of Alaska strives for excellence and accountability to the people of Alaska, Dr. Langdon has exemplified that by connecting the university with the indigenous peoples of our state on issues crucial to them,” said Jo Michalski, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees, in announcing the winner of the prize.

Langdon is not only recognized as one of the top social scientists in Alaska but is highly regarded in his field nationally and internationally. He has taught at the University of Alaska Anchorage for thirty-six years. During his tenure Langdon has inspired many students to further their education and contribute to their communities through research and teaching.  His book, The Native People of Alaska, first published in 1986, has provided an informative and compelling overview of Alaska Natives that has contributed to greater awareness and understanding of Alaska’s indigenous people.  It is used by many schools, agencies and organizations to acquaint students and newcomers to Alaska with basic information.   He has worked with Alaska Native groups in Anchorage and elsewhere to prepare educational materials related to cultural heritage and history for their youth.

As a lifelong resident of Anchorage, Langdon had felt that more people needed to be aware of the city’s rich Dena’ina history. He developed collaborative relations with the Eklutna Village Council to document traditional knowledge about places and their names in the Anchorage area. His research and influence can be found in the interpretive signage throughout Anchorage informing people of the Dena’ina history in the area and the naming of the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.

Langdon’s research has also impacted public policy changes that affect fisheries management and local economies through his analysis of the impact of limited-entry fishing programs on rural and Native Alaskan communities. He has been a consultant for national and state organizations since 1978 and served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and 1999.

Dr. Langdon has been deeply involved in understanding Alaska Native adaptations to the natural environment.  He has made path breaking discoveries on the nature of precontact salmon fisheries of the Tlingit and Haida and how they sustained runs for thousands of years.

His research on traditional knowledge of salmon has demonstrated how deeply held spiritual beliefs  about relationships between humans and salmon coupled with well-designed engineering practices insured the continuity of the salmon runs in southeast Alaska.

Langdon, a graduate of West Anchorage High School, received his formal education from Stanford University. He joined the faculty at UAA in 1976. He has been a visiting professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University for two semesters.   He served as National Science Foundation Cultural Anthropology Program Director from August 2010 to August 2011.

The University of Alaska Foundation raises, invests and manages privately donated funds for the sole benefit of the University of Alaska. The award was established by the late Edith R. Bullock, who served the university for 30 years as a member of the UA Board of Regents and the foundation’s Board of Trustees. Bullock established the award to recognize and reward an individual who has demonstratedexcellence in support of the University of Alaska.

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