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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology

Arctic Studies Center

Heading out to sea in an umiaq (skin boat). Wales, 1906.Heading out to sea in an umiaq (skin boat). Wales, 1906. Courtesy of the Anchorage Museum, B96.9.14

The Arctic Studies Center hosted an Iñupiaq language and culture seminar at the Anchorage Museum in 2011, bringing together eight fluent speakers for four days to discuss Iñupiaq objects in the Living Our Cultures exhibition. The goals were to contribute to documentation of the Iñupiaq language and to create language and culture teaching materials for use in schools and homes throughout Alaska and beyond. The resulting six video lessons offer access to Iñupiaq language and lifeways.To learn more about Iñupiaq culture, please visit the exhibition website Sharing Knowledge at where you will find information about all Alaska Native cultures and educational materials in the Resources section.

Participants in the Iñupiaq language and culture seminar, 2011. Participants in the Iñupiaq language and culture seminar, 2011. Left to right: Jana Harcharek, Herbert Foster Sr., Willie Goodwin Jr., Sylvester Ayek, Bernadette Alvanna-Stimpfle, Rachel Riley, Faye Ongtowasruk and Alvira Downey. Photo by Dawn Biddison.

The educational materials provided here consist of six short videos and a teacher's guide with six lessons. Each is based on an historic cultural heritage object from the collections of the National Museum of Natural History or the National Museum of the American Indian. These objects range from hunting tools used for living from the land and sea to ceremonial items used at celebrations and gatherings to everyday clothing. The information shared about them and about life in northwest Alaska enables learners to explore the cultural traditions of the Iñupiaq people. The videos are in Iñupiaq with subtitles in English and Iñupiaq, for following along in both languages.


Listen & Learn: Iñupiaq Language and Culture Video Lessons
(6 videos)

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