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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology

Arctic Studies Center

In 1994, the Anchorage Museum became the Alaska home of the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center, whose base is in Washington DC. In 2010, the Anchorage Museum opened an expansion featuring the Smithsonian exhibition Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska. The exhibition portrays contemporary lifeways of the North and the ancestral histories embodied by over 600 masterworks of Alaska Native art and design from the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian collections. Indigenous voices, perspectives, and knowledge are first and foremost in the exhibition’s concept and presentation.

Living Our Cultures serves as both a public exhibition and as an active resource for collaborative, community-based research and education. Since 2010 these programs have included Alaska Native artist residencies, indigenous language seminars, cultural documentation consultations with elders and community scholars, public talks by Alaska Native artists and researchers, and hundreds of curator and docent-led tours and school visits. Exhibition interactives and the companion Sharing Knowledge website (http://alaska.si.edu) are continually updated to reflect new information recorded during these interactions. All of this work is part of the Smithsonian’s global Recovering Voices initiative for indigenous languages and knowledge.

On this microsite, we present video documentation for some of the Living Our Cultures programs, offering teachers, students, parents and lifelong learners access to Alaska Native arts, languages and lifeways. Please feel free to utilize these videos in your classroom as part of your lesson plans or with one of the lessons provided. Teacher's guides and lessons with worksheets are available for the Sewing Salmon, Dene Quill Art and Listen & Learn videos. New sets of videos will be added to the site as more programs are held.

Image: Delores Gregory and Tim Shangin, advanced apprentices at the Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats artists residency, 2012. Photo by Wayde Carroll.

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