Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People

Overview

This book is an extraordinary introduction to the indigenous peoples and vital cultures of Alaska's southcentral coast. Combining oral tradition, history, and archaeology, the volume traces the Alutiiq path through ancestral generations to contemporary life, including today's compelling issues of cultural identity and autonomy. It is beautifully and heavily illustrated by Alutiiq art, objects, and images from the current museum exhibition on Alutiiq peoples that is now touring ...

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Overview

This book is an extraordinary introduction to the indigenous peoples and vital cultures of Alaska's southcentral coast. Combining oral tradition, history, and archaeology, the volume traces the Alutiiq path through ancestral generations to contemporary life, including today's compelling issues of cultural identity and autonomy. It is beautifully and heavily illustrated by Alutiiq art, objects, and images from the current museum exhibition on Alutiiq peoples that is now touring Alaska.

Diversity is one of the signal points of this volume: no one voice, and no single approach, could define what it means to be Alutiiq. The many contributors discuss Alutiiq relations with neighboring Alaska Native peoples and with non-Native traders and invaders, with the sea and land, with place and time, and with animals and spirit. Writers include Alutiiq writers, elders, scholars, and storytellers convey a many-sided sense of cultural values and beliefs, even as they recall the struggle to survive more than two centuries of Russian and Euro-American domination. From anthropologists and historians come insights into the great originality of Alutiiq culture as well as its debt to formative influences from around the North Pacific. Seen from these many perspectives, Alutiiq identity emerges as a rich mosaic of people, location, and experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This richly illustrated exhibition catalog is the result of a conscious partnership between anthropologists and the Alutiiq Indians of the southern Alaskan coast and the islands stretching from the Alaskan Peninsula to Prince William Sound. Its purpose is not only to document their cultural heritage but to revitalize a sense of identity that has been fractured by incursions from Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States. The Alutiiq participated in setting research priorities that could help them understand their previous accomplishments and reconstruct forgotten customs. As one craftsman puts it, "I like to feel the flow of ancient characteristics pass through me and express to the world who we were and are." This attractive coffee-table book focuses on material culture, making it most useful for those interested in Indian art. But because it covers archaeology, history, and oral tradition as well, it should both inform scholarly discussion and raise pressing issues. Recommended for museum libraries, high school and junior college libraries, and some senior college and public libraries. Jay H. Bernstein, Fordham Univ. Lib., Bronx, NY Biography Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781889963310
  • Publisher: University of Alaska Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 265
  • Sales rank: 1,460,354
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Aron L. Crowell is Alaska director of the Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Anchorage.

Amy F. Steffian is deputy director of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, Alaska.

Gordon L. Pullar is director of the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development, College of Rural Alaska, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Table of Contents

Orthography x
List of Elders xi
1 Looking Both Ways 3
Heritage and Identity 4
External Perspectives 8
Creating the Exhibition 9
Quyanasinaq--Many Thanks 14
Chapter 1 Notes 19
2 Alutiiq Culture: Views from Archaeology, Anthropology, and History 21
The Origins of Alutiiq Culture 25
Classical Alutiiq Society 30
Cultural Geography of the Alutiiq World 30
Essay: The Alutiiq Language 31
Essay: Chugach Teachers 34
Houses and Domestic Life 36
Society and Family 41
Essay: Alutiiq Midwives 44
Clothing, Jewelry, and Tattoos 46
War and Trade 52
Essay: War Between the Chugach and the Koniag: How the Men of Qilangalik Avenged Their Wives 52
Russian Conquest and Colonial Rule 54
Essay: Forgotten Literacy 60
United States Rule After 1867 62
Essay: Alutiiq Identity 68
Chapter 2 Notes 70
3 Contemporary Alutiiq Identity 73
Essay: Tides and Ties of Our Culture 75
The Impact of Traumatic Events on Alutiiq Identity 76
Anthropologists and Alutiit 78
Essay: Can There Be Such a Thing as a Native Anthropologist? 79
Language and Identity 80
Alutiiq Land, Land Claims, and Identity 82
Essay: The Spirits are Still There: Memories of Katmai Country 84
Essay: Kanatak Tribal Council 86
Alutiiq Cultural Reawakening 87
Essay: Bridging Traditions and Science 89
Repatriation 91
Essay: Repatriation and the Chugach Alaska People 92
Who is an Alutiiq? 94
Conclusion--The Mosaic of Identity 95
Essay: Kinship 96
Chapter 3 Notes 97
4 Cumilalhet--"Our Ancestors" 99
Time and Tradition 100
Deep History: An Archaeological Perspective 103
First Arrivals--The Paleoarctic Period (8000-5500 B.C.) 103
Early Coastal Life (5500-1500 B.C.) 106
Essay: Ocean Bay--The Luck of Science 106
Coastal Villages of the Middle Era (1500 B.C.-A.D. 1100) 111
Essay: Back To Uyak 113
Essay: Alutiit on the Alaska Peninsula 118
Alutiiq Societies: The Late Precontact Era (A.D. 1100-ca. 1760) 121
Partnerships in Archaeology 129
Essay: Historical Archaeology at the Afognak Artel 130
Essay: Community Archaeology, Old Harbor Style 132
Essay: The Karluk Archaeological Project and the Changing Cultural Landscape of Kodiak Island 134
Chapter 4 Notes 135
5 Sugucihpet--"Our Way of Living" 137
Essay: Sugucihpet--Our Way of Living 140
Subsistence and the Spiritual Universe 142
The Heritage of Skin Boats 144
Kayak Design and Construction 145
Kayaks at Sea 149
Essay: Kodiak Alutiiq Weather Lore 150
The Angyaq 152
Angyaq Design and Construction 154
Hunting Hats 155
Sea Mammals 159
Harbor Seal and Sea Lion 160
Essay: "Big Ed" Gregorieff 162
Sea Otter 163
Whales 166
Land Animals 170
Caribou 170
Bears 172
Fish 176
Essay: Subsistence Fishing 178
Birds 179
Intertidal Life 181
Plants 182
Wild Vegetables 184
Berries 184
Seaweeds 185
Chapter 5 Notes 186
6 Ukgwepet--"Our Beliefs": Alutiiq Spiritual Life and Traditions 189
The Spirit World 191
Suk (Person) 191
The Cycles of the Soul (Sugunha) 194
Human Souls 194
Helping Spirits 195
Other Mask-Spirits 196
Raven and Creatures of Myth 196
The Alutiiq Cosmos 197
Traditional Ceremonies 199
Bladder Festival 199
Hunting Festival 199
Essay: An Alutiiq Mask Maker 201
Doll Festival 205
Feast of the Dead 205
Rites of Passage 206
Shamans 208
Alutiiq Russian Orthodoxy 213
Essay: The Dance Continues 219
Chapter 6 Notes 220
7 Alutiiq Paths 223
Martha Demientieff 224
Olga Sam 227
Lucille Antowak Davis 229
Jennie Zeedar 232
Rena Peterson 234
Ignatius Kosbruk 235
Ed Gregorieff 237
Larry Matfay 239
Roy Skonberg 241
Glossary 243
References 247
Index 255
About the editors 265
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