Alliance and Conflict combines a richly descriptive study of intersocietal relations in early nineteenth-century Northwest Alaska with a bold theoretical treatise on the structure of the world system as it might have been in ancient times. Ernest S. Burch Jr. illuminates one aspect of the traditional lives of the Inupiaq Eskimos in unparalleled detail and depth. Basing his account on observations made by early Western explorers, interviews with Native historians, and archeological research, Burch describes the social boundaries and geographic borders formerly existing in Northwest Alaska and the various kinds of transactions that took place across them. These ranged from violence of the most brutal sort, at one extreme, to relations of peace and friendship, at the other. Burch argues that the international system he describes approximated in many respects the type of system existing all over the world before the development of agriculture. Based on that assumption, he presents a series of hypotheses about what the world system may have been like when it consisted entirely of hunter-gatherer societies and about how it became more centralized with the evolution of chiefdoms. Accounts of specific people, places, and events add an immediate, experiential dimension to the work, complementing its theoretical apparatus and sweeping narrative scope. Provocative and comprehensive, Alliance and Conflict is a definitive look at the greater world of Native peoples of Northwest Alaska.