Tag Archives: Alutiiq Museum

Local Brings Alutiiq Traditions to Modern Day Healing

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
It’s no secret that Kodiak’s animals and plants have long provided sustenance for those who call the island home. However, one local plant enthusiast has looked beyond the dinner table in terms of what local plants can provide. In recent years, Gayla Pedersen has used her knowledge of traditional Native uses for plants to create her own line of natural products.
“It started a couple of years ago with some encouragement from a couple good friends. And I have this desire to pick and collect herbs and I had jars and jars of them all over my house and a friend of mine said why don’t you make some stuff out of them and sell it.”
She started with some recipes that she collected over the years and turned her collection of herbs into lotions, tinctures, chapsticks, salves and teas. Her goal is to keep it as pure as possible, and she uses organic oils, butters and primarily uses glass packaging and cold processing methods.
Pedersen said every year she develops a favorite ingredient, and this year one of the local plants she focused on was pineapple weed.
“And it’s been a long term relationship trying to develop and get to know this plant and I’ve had some really amazing successes with it. Including things like making a remedy for nightmares, with incredible success. It’s amazing.” Continue reading

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Language Learning Through Storytelling

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
It’s no question that Alutiiq language learning has grown in recent years, but tonight folks will have an opportunity to hear more about that process and what techniques are being used to revitalize it. As part of the Alutiiq Museum’s fall lecture series, local resident Candace Branson will present her master’s project through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Branson is the education coordinator at Sun’aq and Alutiiq Language educator. She has been working with UAF’s Alaska Native Education Computer Assisted Language Learning grant to study different ways languages like Alutiiq can be taught.
“And my project will be to create a unit to teach Alutiiq language through storytelling. So we’re using a model that has been used in other communities and with other languages like Spanish and French and pulling a traditional Alutiiq story and translating it into Alutiiq – because many of them were documented very early on in the 1800 and 1900s in English by explorers and teachers and people who came to Kodiak out of that interest, but ended up collecting stories.”    Continue reading

State Museum Staff Seeks Kodiak’s Input

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
Representatives from the Alaska State Museum were in town last week to gather community input on the new museum being built in Juneau. Steve Henrikson is the curator of collections for the state museum and said construction isn’t expected to wrap up for another two years, but he and other museum staff and collaborators have been traveling the state to ask folks what they think should be a part of the new exhibits.
“It’s a difficult task to take so many millions of items, whether they’re artifacts or photographs or papers, and decide what of that we’re going to be able to put on exhibit. Obviously we’re not going to have enough room, even though we have a huge new building, it’s still a limited amount of space. So in the process of consulting we’re working with local experts, elders, cultural leaders and the general public all around the state to figure out exactly what is of interest to people and what do they think is important to let the world know about Alaska, why is it special and why is it significant.”   Continue reading

Museum Readies for 17th Community Dig

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
The Alutiiq Museum is gearing up for another year of its Community Archaeology Project. The annual program began in 1997 and allows community members with little to no archaeology experience a chance to participate in real research at an actual excavation site.
Amy Steffian is the director of research and publications at the Alutiiq Museum and helped start the project almost two decades ago with archaeologist Patrick Saltonstall. She said they have worked at a number of sites over the years and this season they will continue their focus on the Kashevaroff site – one of many the museum has excavated in Womens Bay. Steffian said community members and museum staff began excavating the site last year and believe it is a late prehistoric house – probably 300 or 400 years old.
“Patrick found the Kashevaroff site. We had permission from the borough a couple of years ago to go out to Womens Bay and look for sites as part of our broader research project. And by digging a few holes in likely spots and using a soil probe to look for wood charcoal or disturbed sod earth, Patrick was able to find the site.”   Continue reading

Alutiiq Museum Hires New Gallery Manager

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
There have been a lot of changes at the Alutiiq Museum this past year. A number of long-time staff members said goodbye in 2013, and the museum continues to welcome new faces to its staff and board of directors. Cristina Faiella is the museums newest employee these days. She started her role as gallery manager last week and said she’s excited to be working with a passionate group of people so committed to preserving Alutiiq culture.
“And such an intricate and wonderful culture, with the art and the music and the language being completely different. I’m Italian, and I grew up speaking Italian, but it’s phonetic. So you look at a piece of paper and you can pretty much sound it out and you’re going to be a little off but you’re going to be able to say whatever you read. And this is so different for me.”
Faiella originally hails from New York, but studied sports and entertainment management in Florida, where she went on to the professional sports industry working for the Miami Heat.
“And then I was working for the Mets. And then I fell in love, to a military man. And that ended that and meant we were moving around after that. So we’ve moved around quite a bit, and I love it, I love the lifestyle.”
The lifestyle brought her here to Kodiak, where she said she was drawn to the Alutiiq Museum and all it had to offer. Continue reading

Starring Tradition Celebrates Russian Christmas

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Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
While the holidays are over for many folks in Kodiak, they’re also just beginning for some. Today is Russian Christmas, a holiday celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church, which follows the Julian calendar. Alutiiq Museum Director Alisha Drabek said the holiday often spans multiple days, and is best known for the practice called starring.
“The caroling or starring that happens here in Kodiak and throughout Russian Orthodox faith is anywhere from three nights to several more, but here locally they practice a three day caroling celebration. So after church services on January 7, the parishioners gather after the evening church service and start at Father Innocent’s house, and sing songs, traditiaonl Alutiiq caroling songs, Russian Orthodox Church songs, usually around eight to nine songs with a small group of people.” Continue reading