Wednesday, the Alutiiq Museum released Pililita!–Let’s Create, an activity book for youth. This sixty-page paperback is filled with puzzle, word games, crafts, and activities. It was developed by the museum’s staff with contributions for Alutiiq artists and support from the Munartet project and the Alaska State Council for the Arts.
Many of the activities are like those found in children’s puzzle books, but with an Alutiiq twist. A dot-to-dot activity outlines Kodiak Island and shares Alutiiq village names to add to the map. A maze leads a kayaker to seals sunning on a rock. A crossword puzzle reveals the Alutiiq words for wild foods. Other activities are uniquely Alutiiq. For example, children can learn about Alutiiq drawing and make a portrait of themselves using ancestral designs. The book reflects the increasing availability of educational materials about the Alutiiq world. Alutiiq Museum Executive Director April Laktonen Counceller explains.
“Many years ago, the museum produced a small activity book. It was popular, but only a dozen pages. Since then, our educational resources have grown. We now have recipes from community harvesters, a series of tested craft activities, drawings of ancestral clothing, Alutiiq vocabulary lists, and much more. We pulled from all these materials to create culturally connected activities for children.”
Pililita! is filled with line drawings by Alutiiq artist David Tucker. Tucker created characters and scenes for its pages, and they are presented with bold lines to encourage coloring. The images show both ancestors and contemporary people—a kayaker in his gut skin jacket, a woman in an apron making fry bread—to reflect both the history and continuing traditions of the Alutiiq. Additionally, Alutiiq artist Hanna Sholl provided drawings of Alutiiq children and clothing for a paper doll activity. All these illustrations are united with simple directions, lots of Alutiiq vocabulary, and a playful design.
“This is a cheerful, exciting book,” said Counceller. “We wanted children to be intrigued—to open the book, write all over it, and keep turning the pages. It is designed for elementary school students, particularly those who have learned to read. But younger children can color many pages or work with an adult on the activities. Adults may enjoy the word puzzles. They are a great tool for learning Alutiiq vocabulary.”
The museum will distribute copies to educators and include pages from the publication in its traveling education boxes. The public can purchase copies from the Museum Store for $12.50, online or in the gallery.
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.