Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lynwood Montel, Camilla Collins, Yi-Fu Tuan


Original program was called Modern Languages & Intercultural Studies.

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Selected forms of three Isle Royale fishermen’s folklife expressions – material folk culture, social folk custom and narrative folklore – were documented and analyzed. The informants are representative of the group of Scandinavian fishermen who operated commercial fisheries on Isle Royale from the 1880s to date. Documentary and analytical emphasis centered on occupational aspects of their folklife expressions and the fishermen’s perception of the island archipelago. Accordingly, special interest was focused on the fishermen’s interplay with the Lake Superior and Isle Royale environs. Selected folklife expressions were analyzed to uncover fishermen’s cognitive and affective responses to their insular environment. Analysis of their folklife expressions revealed the depth of fishermen’s knowledge, interest and acceptance of “the island” environment.

Complicating the documentary and analytical goals of this study were two major influences that have disrupted the fishermen’s livelihood: namely, Isle Royale became a national park and the depletion of lake trout numbers in Lake Superior. The continued existence of commercial fishing on Isle Royale is threatened, as is the fishermen’s folklife expressions. Consequently, the change brought about by outside influences has changed fishermen’s perception of Isle Royale.


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | Modern Languages | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology