Alutiiq & Tlingit Cultural Sharing 2010

Native Alaskan dancers
Dancers during the Alutiiq & Tlingit cultural sharing
nps photo / tom gamble

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News Release Date: June 25, 2010
Contact: Dusty Kidd, (907) 747-0129

Over the weekend, Sitka National Historical Park and the Sitka Cultural Center hosted the Alutiiq-Tlingit Sharing of Cultures, one of a series of events through which the park is celebrating its Centennial year.

Ten Alutiiq elders and students from around Kodiak Island traveled to Sitka June 16-21 to exchange information and experiences about their cultures with their host Tlingit groups, and to make possible the return to Kodiak a series of songs and dances that were lost to the Alutiiq during the Russian era in Alaska. The project was funded as one of the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea grants. This nationwide program, currently underway in 33 national parks, seeks to connect youth and other under-served audiences to parks. Students engaged in four days of cultural activities.

Under the guidance of the Tribal Elders from Sitka and Kodiak, and Nancy Douglas of the Sitka Cultural Center, the young people harvested food from the beaches and forests, prepared food including baked salmon in the ground and fried bread, wove spruce root rope and shared stories. One day was spent travelling 45 miles by boat to Poison Cove, to commemorate the mass death of more than 125 Aleut and Alutiiq sea otter hunters, who ingested tainted shellfish in 1799. The Alutiiq visitors traveled to Sitka under the sponsorship of Sitka National Historical Park and the Sitka Cultural Center.

A host of groups from both communities took part, including the Alutiiq Museum and the Woody Island Tribe of Kodiak, and Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP), Boys and Girls Club of Sitka and Pacific High School. The visit culminated in a public performance of the Aleut Series of songs and dance on Saturday, June 21, with a combined troupe of Tlingit and Alutiiq dancers.

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