Born and raised in the rural Kodiak Island community of Old Harbor, Alaska, Sven Haakanson is a member of the Old Harbor Alutiiq Tribe. He holds a BA in English from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. Since 2000, Haakanson has worked to share Native American perspectives with museums as well as museum practices with Native people.
Haakanson is the Executive Director of the nationally acclaimed Alutiiq Museum, a Native cultural center in Kodiak, Alaska. He has made collections more accessible to Native communities by researching objects in the world’s museums and developing traveling exhibits and educational resources around the information they hold. In 2007 his work was honored with a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Haakanson serves on many cultural organizations and maintains an active research program. He is systematically documenting Kodiak’s prehistoric petroglyphs and continues to publish his research on the Nenets culture of Siberia. In addition, he is an accomplished artist, known for his carvings and photography. Sven is married to Kodiak educator Balika Finley Haakanson; they have two daughters.