Juneau | Professor, UAS; fly-fishing guide instructor
“There is much to learn from the 10,000-year co-evolution of humans and salmon in Alaska…reconciling Western and indigenous worldviews will require careful attention to social and environmental justice. And, more importantly, it will require creating spaces where genuine listening is possible. Listening to stories, to data, and to embodied knowledges will help us navigate toward a path where Alaskan salmon can be sustained as both economic linchpin and cultural icon. In many ways, a conversation about Alaska’s future is a conversation about salmon.”
Kevin Maier is an English professor, fly-fishing instructor and guide, and Chapter President of Trout Unlimited in Juneau. For the last two decades he has been thinking, teaching, and writing about the cultural impact of sport fishing and hunting. “Until I moved to Alaska, my relationship to salmon was marked primarily by absence,” he says. “Crashing stocks drove my grandparents to sell their boat before I turned 10. I didn’t comprehend the bigger picture; I just knew we stopped fishing. I found fly-fishing in college, immediately embracing the profound immersion in fishy worlds. When I applied to graduate schools, fishing access was central to my decision-making, and Timothy Egan’s definition of the Northwest as ‘any place salmon can get’ to determined the geographic range of schools, and later, jobs, that I considered. As a Northwesterner, salmon are central to my identity.”
Maier has spent his entire life in public education. He is a third generation public school teacher and higher education was always part of his plan. He holds a B.A. from Western Washington, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Oregon. As an undergraduate, he found himself drawn to music and documentary film as storytelling media, while his graduate work was in the broader field of the environmental humanities. His dissertation focused on the conservation impact of American hunting and fishing stories. Maier has published numerous book reviews, articles, and feature stories and has presented at conferences around the world.
Maier says that he has long been fascinated by various commercial fisheries, and considers himself a student of the industry. Reviewing regulations as part of the ADFG’s Juneau-Douglas Advisory Committee for the last three years he learned a lot from commercial, personal use, and sport anglers on the committee. Even with this impressive base, Maier still feels he has lots to learn, and he’s especially keen to dig into the indigenous technologies and social systems that enabled generations of healthy human-salmon interactions.