Museum Features Alutiiq Plantlore in May
Credit: Alutiiq Museum
Image from "Naut’staarpet—Our Plants"
May is plantlore month at the Alutiiq Museum. In celebration of spring, Alaskan Ethnobotanist Priscilla Russell will visit Kodiak to share her knowledge of Alutiiq plantlore. Russell is the author of Naut’staarpet—Our Plants, an Alutiiq Museum publication that summarizes traditional uses for sixty local plants. Published in the fall of 2017, the book shares the results of Russell’s research in Alutiiq communities in 1990 and the knowledge of cultural experts from around the island.
On May 4 at 4:00 pm, Russell will attend a workshop for local teachers and community members lead by culture bearer Gayla Pedersen. The group will learn about devil’s club and participate in processing the prickly plant for use.
On May 4 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, the public is invited to a book signing and discussion session with Russell in the museum’s gallery. This free First Friday event is an opportunity to talk about local plants with an Alaskan expert, share observations, and learn about Russell’s research. In addition to studying Alutiiq plantlore, Russell is well known for her studies of both Dena’ina and Sugpiaq plantlore on the Kenai Peninsula. The workshop and the book signing events are supported by the Munartet Project, a local collaboration between educators and organizations to promote teaching in and through the arts and culture. Munartet partners include the Kodiak Arts Council, Kodiak College, the Kodiak Island Borough School District, and the Alutiiq Museum.
This week the Alutiiq Museum will also launch an online plantlore gallery, developed from the information in Naut’staarpet. This educational resource features photos of local plants and people using them, a brief summary of each plant’s cultural uses, and audio recordings of Alutiiq plant names. Developed with support from the Alaska State Museum Grant-in-Aid program, the gallery will make information on ancestral plant use traditions widely accessible. It is available here.