Alaska Native Collections

September 28, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Alaska, Education, Maps, Naming, Siberia | 4 Comments
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Today I want to share a very good general resource I found las week: the Alaska Native Collections site, by the Smithsonian institute. Despite its name, the site includes information about Alaska but also about Russia or other polar contruies. The site is not only beautifully designed but also packed with a lot of maps, photographies and information, allowing the visitor to learn about the arctic cultures easily. If you just want to learn a few basics, you can do a quick reading, if you want to deep more, you just need to open the “Read more” sections.

Through the Sharing Knowledge project, members of Indigenous communities from across Alaska and northeast Siberia are working with the Smithsonian Institution and the Anchorage Museum to interpret the materials, techniques, cultural meanings, history, and artistry represented by objects in the western arctic and subarctic collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Studies Center, which organized and implemented the project, is a special research program within the Department of Anthropology, NMNH, with offices in Washington and at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.

The goals of Sharing Knowledge are to make the Smithsonian collections accessible to all and to support cross-cultural learning among Indigenous home communities, in schools, and around the world. Interest in the extraordinary arts and cultural heritage of the North is truly global in scope. Participants in this project are Elders, scholars, artists, and teachers who invite all to explore, learn, and appreciate.

The combined holdings of NMNH and NMAI are vast—more than 30,000 items from Alaska and northeast Siberia, most collected between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century. The great majority has never been published, exhibited, or seen by contemporary residents of source communities in the North. Collaborative study of these collections for Sharing Knowledge began in 2001-2005, with a series of trips to the museums in Washington by more than forty Elders and regional representatives. This documentation process will continue as many more objects are brought from Washington to new Smithsonian exhibition galleries and Arctic Studies Center facilities at the Anchorage Museum, starting in 2010. Through its alliance with the Arctic Studies Center (since 1993) and its planned physical expansion to house these programs and collections, the Anchorage Museum has become an important Smithsonian partner in fostering the collaborative work of museums and Native communities.

Object records on this site include edited transcripts of museum discussions as well as summaries drawn from history, anthropology, and recorded oral tradition. The Cultures section includes regional introductions and information about contributors. The Resources section offers reading materials, web links, and a curriculum guide with lesson plans designed for middle and high school students.

The Sharing Knowledge site reflects the current state of an on-going project, with inevitable gaps and uneven representation of the different cultural regions. It will grow over time as more information is recorded and new contributors can be brought into the discussion. Please watch the site for continually updated materials and features.

Photography (C) Larry McNeil

As I mentioned this place has tones and tones of info about the cultures and the people, so it seems an unforgetable place to ask for help whenever I can manage to do the big trip!

Sealaska Heritage Institute

August 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Alaska, Education, Research | Leave a comment
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Another interesting website for Sunday:

Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is a regional Native nonprofit organization founded for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. SHI was established in 1981 by Sealaska Corp., a for-profit company formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). SHI, formerly Sealaska Heritage Foundation, administers Sealaska Corp.’s cultural and educational programs.

Programs
You can view their programs page here. The list is quite long! You can also take a look at their online language resources page here. Sealaska Heritage Institute produces Native language curriculum and other education tools through its Language and Education Programs. The institute encourages students and teachers to use its online resources to perpetuate and revitalize Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Publications

Sealaska Heritage Institute has produced numerous books and videos relating to Alaska Native cultures, languages and historical events. The book collection includes language texts used in Native language classes. SHI is constantly developing new materials to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, the mission of the institute. Check them here.

Collections

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) houses more than 3,000 publications, approximately 20,000 photographic images, roughly 300 cultural objects, nearly 2,500 media items, and more than 750 linear feet of manuscript material that document the history, culture, heritage, and language of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Below is a sample of some of the center’s special holdings, including digitized photograph and manuscript collections and
views of artifacts:

    Dr. Walter A. Soboleff ANB Papers: In 2007, Dr. Walter A. Soboleff officially donated to SHI his papers, which document his time as a ranking official within the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB). Funded by IMLS from 2005-2007, SHI staff arranged and scanned a significant
    portion of Soboleff’s ANB papers. The scanned papers are now available online and consist of over 1,000 pages of material that span 1929 to 1995. Scanned papers include issues of the ANB periodical “The Voice of Brotherhood,” ANB meeting minutes, correspondence, working files, camp files, and papers that show how ANB fought to improve the lives of tens of thousands of Alaska Natives.

    Digital Photo Collections: This link takes researchers to a selection of online photographs from
    the Special Collections Research Center’s holdings. These images date from 1880 to the present and document various aspects of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian life. This web album will continue to grow as materials are added by Special Collections staff.

    Digital Celebration Photo Archive:This digital interface is a searchable database of historical photographs from the institute’s collection showcasing select photographs from SCRC’s Celebration Photograph Collection. The database includes images of the first Celebration festival in 1982 and from various festivals that followed. The creation of this photo database was funded by a two-year
    grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services.

    Bowlsby Collection: In July 2002, a private collector donated more than 50
    Alaska Native cultural objects and a slide collection to Sealaska Heritage Institute. It is the largest private collection of cultural objects ever given to SHI. The collection includes baskets, halibut hooks, carving tools, spoons, a rattle and a number of stone objects that appear prehistoric, said SHI President Rosita Worl, a Tlingit anthropologist.

    William Paul, Jr. Photos
    :This photography collection features Southeast Alaska Native people during the 1940s through the 1950s, and they are a joy to view. However, much of the information identifying people, places and events depicted in the photographs has been lost. We are hoping you
    will help! We are interested in anything you have to say about the photos — perhaps you remember some of these events and have stories or memories to share?

    Tlingit Fighting Pick: An old, stone artifact received by Sealaska Heritage Institute in 2003. The object was discovered in the early 1950s in the village of Kake by Lloyd Davis during
    a construction project and later presented to SHI by Davis’ son, John Davis. The artifact measures 16 inches in length and weighs about 5 pounds. SHI is trying to determine the age of the artifact and the type of stone used. SHI asked Native elders, museum personnel and academic experts to view the artifact and to consult with the institute about the object’s potential historical use. Two theories have emerged.

    Curry-Weissbrodt Collection
    : In 1981 a wealth of Alaska Native land-claims documents were donated to SHI by I.S. Weissbrodt and James E. Curry, tribal lawyers who represented the Tlingit and Haida Indians from the 1940s. SHI has scanned and digitized a selection of key documents from
    this collection and they are posted on our website for public use. The project was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Impressive! They run also a blog, you can check it here if you want to keep in contact with them.

Indigenous People Issues & Resources

August 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Education, Links, News, Organization | Leave a comment
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Thanks to a comment, two weeks ago I found this site, dedicated to indigenous people. It does not have information about all the tribes, but it keeps growing and its future seems promising!

Welcome to Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resource

Today, our world is experiencing a rapid decline in cultural diversity. One in five people in today’s world speak the same language: the Mandarin Chinese spoken by the largest single ethnic group in the world – the Han – whose 1.3 billion population represents 92 percent of the mainland Chinese population and 19 percent of the world’s population. Likewise, in India – the world’s second most populous country – there are 415 living, recognized languages, but the majority of people speak either Bengali or Hindi. Linguists recognize some 6,000 to 7,000 spoken languages, of which 5,000 or so are spoken by indigenous peoples who represent an estimated 6 percent of the world’s population.

Many of these people, and their language and culture, face a questionable future. The relatively rapid decline in language diversity parallels the decline in cultural diversity. These changes are due in part to the product of both historical relationships – imperialism, colonialism, Cold War economic development, and militarism – as well as cultural beliefs that rationalize or justify actions that serve the powerful at the cost of lands and livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources is a new site that is slowly developing. Our goal is to provide information and resources for those concerned about, and for, indigenous peoples around the world. We recognize that our actions in the West effect indigenous peoples in all parts of the world – the consequences of water diversion and hydroelectric energy projects, militarization, global and national events, and consolidation of natural resource access, and the like are all having an unprecedented impact on the world’s indigenous peoples. But we can do something.

It is our belief that cross-cultural communication and understanding – as well as easily accessible information and resources – is one of the keys to helping indigenous peoples maintain their language, culture, and identity. We hope that you also share this belief. Diversity is one of the strongest components to a healthy world. Together we can help and make a difference – from large to small.

I will dig into it later on. Looks promising, doesn’t it?

Avataq Cultural Institute

August 6, 2008 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Canada, History, Language, Organization, Traditions | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I found this interesting website from Avataq Cultural Institute:

Avataq Cultural Institute

Avataq Cultural Institute provides a strong foundation for the living culture of today’s Inuit. Since its inception in 1980, Avataq has built a solid reputation as the cultural leader for Nunavik Inuit and as an important resource for Inuit culture in Canada and beyond. Our goal is to ensure that Inuit culture and language continue to thrive into the future, so that our descendants can benefit from the rich heritage passed down to us through the wisdom of our ancestors.


About Us

Founded in 1980, Avataq Cultural Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the language and culture of Inuit in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). The organization has its head office in Inukjuak, Nunavik, and an administrative office in Westmount, Quebec.

Avataq receives its mandate directly from Nunavik Inuit at the biennial Nunavik Inuit Elders’ Conferences. Avataq has a board of directors comprising five Inuit members elected for two-year terms.

The programs and services of the Avataq Cultural Institute include: an Inuktitut promotion and preservation program, a genealogy program, a Nunavik museums program, a Nunavik Inuit art collection, an archaeology department, an artists’ support program, a documentation and archives centre, local cultural committees, traditional skills courses, as well as a research and publications service.

Through its language, heritage and cultural programs, the Avataq Cultural Institute is striving to support and preserve Inuit culture for present and future generations.

I have a photographic day, as you see 😉 I copied a lot of nice photos they have on their website. They have a very very interesting section about the Inuit in Nunavik, as well as maps. This will be for another post tonight! As an extra, you can download the Inuktitut fonts for your computer too! The link is here!

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