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Sharing culture or selling out? Developing the commodified persona in the heritage industry



Native American professionals in the heritage industry often describe their work as “sharing culture” when they are involved in processes of transforming features of their cultures into alienable products for consumption. Participation in the heritage industry can be a powerful catalyst for local cultural reproduction, but it also poses a danger to those aspects of culture that Natives consciously protect from commodification. Drawing from a case study of a Native American–owned cultural-tourism business in Alaska, I explore the ways that tourism workers respond to this threat through the construction of what I call a “commodified persona.”[cultural commodification, representation, Northwest Coast, tourism]