To assist Alutiiq families with the preservation of their paper photographs the Alutiiq Museum is leading a Community Photo Archive project. In the coming months, museum staff members will work with tribal councils and community members to identify Alutiiq family photos, scan the images, and create digital copies to their owners. Staff members will invite families to deposit digital copies with the museum, but sharing is not a requirement for participation. This one-year effort is funded by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs with assistance from the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak.
“Photos are among the most popular documentation of the Alutiiq world,” said Alutiiq Museum Collections Manager Amanda Lancaster. “People love to see family members and familiar places. And photos are great documentation of recent history. But photos are also some of the most vulnerable records of heritage. They are easily lost, damaged, or forgotten. Some years ago, the museum received a valuable collection of 755 color slides rescued from a garage sale!”
In addition to scanning recent photographs, the museum will take pictures of people, places, and activities in collaboration with village residents. The goal of this effort is to create a visual record of modern Kodiak life. These photos will be shared with tribal councils.
“We are excited to create this visual archive,” said Counceller. “Documenting recent Alutiiq history and modern Alutiiq life is important for the future. The information we collect today will help the next generations understand our history and connect to relatives. Just recently we posted a family photo to Facebook. It was taken in Chignik Bay around 1960 and we didn’t know who was pictured. A woman recognized her grandpa and showed the photo to her mother—the man’s daughter. She cried. Her father died when she was a child and she had only one photograph of him. We gave her a digital copy that day.”
The Alutiiq Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of the Alutiiq, an Alaska Native tribal people. Representatives of Kodiak Alutiiq organizations govern the museum with funding from charitable contributions, memberships, grants, contracts, and sales.