A Brief Ethnography of Alaskan Tlingits essay

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The topic I have chosen integrates with the concepts of anthropology in a number of ways. First and foremost, it is quite evident that by looking at Tlingits, we cannot afford to review the use of culture and how it impacted on their lives. As you would agree with me, culture is one of the central issues when it comes to anthropology and therefore it means that our topic is in line with objectives of anthropology. Anthropology being a study of humanities, you will find that ethnography of Tlingits includes the discussion of the origin of this particular group of people. It also features issues to do with spirituality and religious beliefs of the Tlingits and these aspects are very crucial in the study of anthropology. The use of art which is inseparable to the Tlingits is also a clear sign of the relevance of our topic to the objectives of anthropology since art just as the above mentioned aspects takes a central place as far as anthropology is concerned.

I was guided by a number of factors when choosing the topic for the paper. First and foremost, I was looking for a topic which demonstrates the objectives of anthropology (Laguna, 1990, p. 45).   

Another factor that made me to choose this topic is the fact I wanted to do research on a topic which is of historical importance to many. The fact that the Tlingitis has become an endangered species in the recent past definitely attracts the attention of many people and there is no doubt that my research will be of significance contribution as far as looking for intervention measures to protect the endangered human species. One thing that is crucial when conducting a research is the ability to collect as much information to back up your findings and conclusions. One of the methods that I have used for collecting my data is interview. It calls for high levels of corporation between the interviewer and interviewee in order to facilitate good and accurate flow of information. From the information that I was able to gather before embarking on the research, Tlingits people are very social and therefore getting people to interview would not be a big problem.

This particular study is   aimed at looking at what extend the Tlingits are aligned culturally (Hammersley, 2005, p. 26).To be specific, we will be seeking to establish the role that family ties plays in the culture of the Tlingitis.

Methods of Data Collection

One of the methods that I used to collect the data for this research is interview. In this case, I had to conduct interviews with ten members of this community. Important to mention is that the ten people that I have used in this study act as a representative of the whole population.  . People comprising the sample are randomly chosen so as to eliminate any chances of biasness in the study. Different age groups were represented in the sample size and this is important in eliminating findings hat are leaning towards one age group.

Before going to the main point of the interview, I ensured that I have interacted with the people forming my audience so that they can get well acquainted with me. This helped a lot in eliminating any forms of tensions that can make them uneasy to provide the required information (Terry, 1999, p. 76).

The interview sought to find out how each one of them viewed the issue of family and establish how much they could trace their kinship back. The interview was in form of closed ended questions which called for the interviewee to provide answers in form of short sentences. Their response was very crucial in forming the findings of our research.


I also employed the use of observation to establish the issue of family ties among the Tlingits. In order to collect information using this method I had to visit some families of Tlingits. One thing that I was able to observe is that most of them were actually extended families. This clearly shows how strong the bond is tying together people of the same family.

Another thing that was very evident when I visited the homestead in that the relationship amongst members of the family was one of the best with the prevalence of an atmosphere of care and concern for one another. This to some extend was a clear depiction of strong family ties (Hammersley, 2005, p. 26)


Questionnaires were another method that I used to collect information for the study. I distributed 20 questionnaires requiring open ended questions. Out of the 100 questionnaires that I was able to distribute among members of Tlingitis, I was able to collect 95 of them. This shows that there was 95 % response. This to me was a very good turnout and proved that the respondents exhibited high level of corporation.

Below is an example of some of the questions

Do you  visit your relatives quite often



Do you stay with your extended family



Is the history of your kinship important to you



Do family ties hold any importance to you



After analyzing the data which I had collected from the questionnaires, it was quite evident that 99% of Tlingitis from whom I was able to collect the questionnaires noted that family ties were very important to them. One percent of the people that returned their questionnaires appeared to have mixed reactions on the importance of families. Therefore going my majority’s rulings, it would be right to conclude that family ties are very strong amongst the Tingistis going by the information from the questionnaires. (Hammersley, 2005, p. 28)

Another method that I used in our research to collect information is the peer reviewed articles. Many of the article stat we have used reveals that Tlingitis put a lot of value in family ties. Family is very crucial in the culture of this community as it forms a basic unit of the society. As we have established in the research, significance of family cuts across all the tribes of Tlingitis. Kinship also features very clearly in the culture of the community in that most people are able to track down their ancestral lineage easily.

In the research, I also used internet to gather information about family structures of Tlingitis. Through Google, I was able to establish various views concerning the importance of family structures to this particular group of people. In the process of my interaction with community, I was able to take a few photographs which I later used to analyze the topic. Some of the photographs I took were clearly depicting the relationship between various members of Tlingits family.  


In order to ensure that the results I obtained were as accurate as possible, I combined different research methods to this study. I also ensured that the methods that I used were very relevant to simple to administer to avoid any instances of ambiguity in their administration an analysis of results. The study acknowledged the importance of factoring the relevance of each and very age group towards contributing to the findings of the study. For instance, in the case of interview and questionnaires, I ensured that all the age groups relevant to the study were well represented in the sample (Hammersley, 2005, p. 26).

Results and Conclusion

By analyzing the results obtained from each of the methods used, it is quite clear that there is high degree of similarity in the findings. Just as it was the case of interview, use of questionnaires revealed that family ties held a lot of significance to the Tingtis. For instance in the case of questionnaire, 99% of the responded said that they family ties were very strong. Peer viewed articles that I used also appeared to give similar information. On top of the above mentioned methods, I also used observation which again proved the same point; that family or kinship ties were very strong (Gay 2002, p. 45). 

Therefore based on the results from the various methods used in the research, it is worth to conclude that unlike many communities which have lost family ties, the Tlingits community exhibit high levels of adherence to both familial and kinship ties. 

As we had stated in the earlier, the total population of Tlingits is very small as compared to other communities. Therefore it means that the community may be ended up for extinction through being absorbed into mainstream tribes. The fact that the community is small can be seen as one of the reasons why there are strong familial ties amongst the members of the community. Strong familial and kinship ties may be a strategy that the community itself has devised in order to maintain its identity and reduce changes of being lured into the mainstream communities. This conclusion can be reached at by doing a comparative with other communities. For instance; studies have established that large communities do not maintain strong kinship ties, a situation which is very evident in medium and small communities (Laguna, 1990, p. 56).

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