Robert Jarvenpa
Finnish North American Literature Association
Biographical Information


"Visual Expression in Finnish-American Ethnic Slurs."
Journal of American
89.351 (January-March 1976): 90-91.

The text discusses the permutations of stereotypes associated with Finnish
Americans and contains an illustration of a Smithala and Wessinen One-Shot
Revolver as example. The barrel points toward the shooter.  

Northern Passage: Ethnography and Apprenticeship among the Subarctic
Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 1998.

What is it like living among and learning about the cultural realities of other
people for the first time? Northern Passage uses the motif of apprenticeship to
reveal the humbling, childlike quest of the novice ethnographer, on the one hand,
and the trials of an active participant learning the intricacies of bush life and
livelihood from subarctic Indian hunting partners and teachers, on the other
hand. In the process, Jarvenpa’s reflexive narrative presents a compelling vision
of northern Dene or Athapaskan society. The Han people of the Yukon Territory
and eastern Alaska and the Chipewyan of northern Saskatchewan emerge as
vividly drawn actors in a cultural landscape distinctly influenced by gold miners,
fur traders, missionaries, conservation officers, and other post-colonial agents.
This candid but sensitive treatment deals with issues such as trapping
economies, knowledge of the environment, dreaming and hunting power,
permission and informed consent, language learning, accusations of spying,
alcohol use, economic development, partnerships, note-taking, and the pros and
cons of active participation. Jarvenpa’s early field experiences unfold as a primer
on false leads, setbacks and revealing discoveries building to a suspenseful