Alice H. Ernst is a little-known pioneer of Pacific Northwest anthropology. Born in Maine in 1880, she came with her family as part of a cooperative that founded Port Angeles. She taught school in Alaska, gained her M.A. in Washington State in 1913 and joined the faculty of the University of Oregon in 1924. In the year of her retirement, she published The Wolf Ritual of the Northwest Coast (1952), a collection of stories from the Nootka, Quilete and Makah derived from research between 1932 and 1952. Ernst designated the wolf story as particularly important. She died in 1980, the year her work was reprinted. The Wolf Ritual recalls the story of a young woman who looks admiringly at a wolf. She is visited by the chief of the wolves and she sees before her a fine young man. She goes with the wolf into the mountains and she has two sons, both half Wolf and half man. Her family searches for her in vain and believes she must be dead. One of her sons wants to meet his human grandfather. His wolf father relents but first teaches them the Klukwana, or wolf ritual. The woman returns to her people and instructs her father not to fear or harm the wolves, but rather to learn from them. The woman teaches her father about the Klukwana, and he teaches the rest of her tribe.


Ernst, Alice H. The Wolf Ritual of the Northwest Coast (Eugene: University of Oregon Press, 1952, 1980).

[BCBW 2004] "Anthropology" "First Nations"