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Vaughan, James Daniel | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Vaughan, James Daniel

Historical Note:

James Daniel Vaughan was a cultural anthropologist who received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1985 from University of Washington, with a focus on the Haida Indians of Southeast Alaska. Vaughan, of Washington state, first began studying anthropology in 1970, when he enrolled at Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University). Vaughan graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1973, and then enrolled in Western Washington’s recently created Master’s degree program in anthropology. Vaughan obtained his Master’s degree in anthropology in 1975, with his thesis entitled “Tsimshian Potlatch and Society: Testing a Structural Analysis.”

In 1975 Vaughan was accepted to begin Ph.D. studies in cultural anthropology at University of Washington. For the next decade Vaughan spent time on an off at Hydaburg, Alaska, studying Haida culture and language. In 1975 Vaughan received a grant to study Haida language in Hydaburg, which began his time at Hydaburg. Over the coming years Vaughan continued his studies in Hydaburg, while living and working in the community, such as taking employment on a commercial fishing boat, working in the cannery’s cold storage unit, and even teaching K-12 school for a season in Hydaburg. Vaughan left Hydaburg periodically to continue his studies at University of Washington, where he also taught courses. He also spent an academic year teaching anthropology at University of Victoria. In 1985 Vaughan completed his doctor work and his dissertation was entitled “Toward a New and Better Life: Two Hundred Years of Alaskan Haida Culture Change,” which traced Haida history with oral accounts and archival documents.

After completing his academic work, Vaughan took employment outside of academia, never returning to anthropology studies, though Vaughan remained connected to the community of Hydaburg.

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