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Koniag and Alutiiq Museum to Develop Two Publications on Alutiiq History

Oct 2, 2020 | Alaska Native, Education, Media & Arts

Archaeological research conducted near Karluk Lake in 2019 will inspire an Alutiiq story book for third-graders.

Peter Olsen | Koniag, Inc.

A $116,389 Tribal Library Enhancement grant awarded to Koniag, Inc. by the Institute of Museum and Library Services will fund the creation of two publications on Alutiiq history. The Quliyanguarpet—Our Story project, led by the Alutiiq Museum, aims to help young people access detailed accurate information on the Alutiiq past. An Alutiiq storybook for third-graders and an Alutiiq history book for high school students will be written by local experts and distributed for free.

“Alutiiq history is not widely understood or taught in classrooms.” said Alutiiq Museum Executive Director April Laktonen Counceller. “This does not mean our past is unknown. Archaeological, cultural, historical, and linguistic studies have built a rich view of our ancestors’ world. Much of this research has been led by tribal scholars and our own museum. It is now time make their finds widely accessible—to add Alutiiq stories and voices to historical narratives, to help children learn our story and combat hurtful stereotypes.”

The two-year project, which began in September, is starting with the production of a storybook. Alutiiq author Alisha Drabek will write a story of an Alutiiq child at fish camp. The story will be set on Karluk Lake about 500 years ago and inspired by the museum’s recent archaeological finds in the region. Original watercolor paintings by artist Cheryl Lacy will illustrate the story, and museum archaeologists will provide a short non-fiction account of the archaeological dig that inspired the story as an epilogue.

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In the second year of the project, Counceller, Drabek, and museum archaeologists Patrick Saltonstall and Amy Steffian will develop an Alutiiq history book. This publication will chronicle the 7,000 year history of the Alutiiq people, from the colonization of Kodiak to the present day. Photos from the museum’s archives and of museum objects will be used as illustrations.

Hard copies of both books will be given to schools, tribes, libraries, and Native organizations. The books will also be published as eBooks, for free public distribution.

“This project will ensure an accurate presentation of Kodiak’s Native heritage. By sharing a fuller, more truthful account of our history, Quliyanguarpet will allow us to tell stories of ingenuity and strength not just loss,” said Counceller.

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