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Found 5,965 Collections


The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act was an act passed by the British in 1765. The Act was enforced to require the colonist to pay a fee or tax on every piece of printed paper they used. Items like legal documents, license, newspapers, and even playing cards were taxed. They had to buy paper from the British that had official stamps to show they paid the tax. Colonist could only pay the taxes in gold and silver, not even paper money. The money gathered from the Stamp Act was used to help pay for the French and Indian War. It was used to pay for things the troops needed in exchange for their service.

Alexis Chaney

The Start of Black Hair Care

I have a strong connection with my natural hair. I love to wash it, wear it, and care for it. I really have to thank the many African American women from the past for paving the way for great hair care that's available today. Hair care styling became more important through the years. My collection features styles and products throughout the 1900's.

Janan Muhammad

The Steamboat Arabia

This collection was made to pair with a learning experience during the November 17th workshop for Pittsburgh teachers working with the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Teachers will visit the Steamboat Arabia exhibit and learn from a Heinz History Center curator about the decisions made and limitations faced when creating an exhibit for visitors to learn from.

Both the online collection and the Heinz History Center exhibit explore the question "How do new innovations in transportation affect American life?"

The collection below contains artifacts and images from the Smithsonian collection that might help students and teachers respond to the question above. Suggested scaffolding questions might include:

  • Identify the changes in technology and transportation that occurred between 1800-1850.
  • How did these new transportation systems impact the movement and interactions of groups of people, the expansion of trade, and cultural life on the frontier?
  • How do the items in this collection compare to what was found during the recovery of the Steamboat Arabia?
Kate Harris

The Story of Aloha

A collection of objects personalized by Kristina Ottwell. This collection contains physical items that are far more meaningful than they may seem. Each of these objects come from a different time in her life, giving her comfort and gratification when she needed it most. The ipu, wedding band, and x2 pin are all held very close to her heart. Together these objects symbolize how far Kristina has come in life.

Ottwell, Kristina. Personal Interview. 2 March 2019.

Abigail Ottwell

The Story of America in the Holocaust

Through this curation, one can see a clear story path. It all begins with the struggles that started in Europe that forced these refugees to attempt to flee to asylum. Getting to America, for those trying to escape, was a very difficult feat due to new legislation and American stubbornness towards immigrants. For those lucky enough to get to America, they soon discovered that this “sanctuary” held many of the same prejudice and anti semitic beliefs that were forged in Europe. Overall, this curation was made to track the struggles of Jews through all stages in their journey to America.


The Struggle Between Law Enforcement and African Americans

Ever since African Americans have step foot in America it has been a trial. They have been beaten psychically, abused verbally, and isolated socially. This journal touches on a matter that til this the day the conflict is still unsolved. This journal will view the struggles between Law Enforcement and the African American community. 

Peter Mensah

The Struggle Between Law Enforcement and African Americans

Ever since African Americans have step foot in America it has been a trial. They have been beaten psychically, abused verbally, and isolated socially. This journal touches on a matter that til this the day the conflict is still unsolved. This journal will view the struggles between Law Enforcement and the African American community. 

destiny gaskins

The Struggle Between Mental Health and The African American Race

Throughout society African Americans have been ostracized from society and deprived of many opportunities. The reason that this is happening is because society or in other words "White America" have placed the stigma on the African American race that they are not mentally inclined for such things. This Journal views the struggles that African Americans endure of this alleged stigma.

Kelvin Gibbs Jr

The Stuff of Stories (Using Museums to Inspire Student Writing)

In this 1994 issue of Art to Zoo, students tap into the tales stored in museums.
Teachers find ideas for using museums and other community resources as
springboards for student writing. Click the PDF icon to download.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

The Subway

Artworks, photographs, and other documents relating to the New York subway system.
Suzanne Dempsey

The Subway

Artworks, photographs, and other documents relating to the New York subway system.
Phoebe Hillemann

The Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) People and Their Culture

The Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) People and Their Culture

By Gordon L. Pullar (Sugpiaq), 2009

(This is shortened version of a longer essay from the Smithsonian book Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska.)

Sea, Land, Rivers

The Sugpiaq homeland is large, spanning Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, and the Alaska Peninsula. Our climate is wet and stormy but mild. Massive glaciers flow from the high coastal mountains, but the sea remains unfrozen. Spruce forests cover the eastern areas but dwindle in the west, so that much of Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula are treeless, windswept tundra. Along our coasts you can fish for salmon, halibut and crabs, hunt seals or sea lions, and walk the shore at low tide to collect shellfish and seaweed. Depending on the season you might search out an octopus under beach rocks, gather eggs on a seabird island, pick berries or go hunting in the hills for bears, caribou or deer.

Traditional Sugpiaq hunting depended on the qayaq (kayak) and angyaq (large open boat), both covered with seal or sea lion skins. Ancestral equipment included throwing boards, harpoons and arrows. Many communities today depend on commercial fishing for cash income, but in recent years that industry has faltered. Part of the problem today is the high cost of fuel for boats and home heating. An increasing number of people can no longer afford to stay in the villages and are migrating to cities such as Kodiak and Anchorage.

When the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in 1989 people were deeply shocked and depressed. Eleven million gallons of oil poured into Prince William Sound and then drifted west on the wind and currents, polluting fifteen hundred miles of shoreline. The huge spill coincided roughly with the geographic boundaries of the Sugpiaq culture area. Most sea life eventually recovered, but the communities that relied most heavily on fishing and coastal subsistence were disrupted for years and suffered deep economic losses. Today oil can still be found on the beaches, lying just below the rocks and sand. Its pollution still leaches slowly into the sea.

Community and Family

History has proven the Sugpiaq people to be highly resilient, despite the traumatic events of conquest and oppression. Russian traders in search of sea otter furs first conquered and then enslaved the Native population of southern Alaska. In 1784 a force led by Grigorii Shelikhov used guns and cannons to slaughter hundreds of Sugpiaq men, women and children on Kodiak Island. Men were forced to hunt otters in fleets of kayaks, sometimes paddling hundreds of miles and being gone from their homes for months at a time. Others had to provision the Russians with whales, fish and game. Women prepared plant foods, dried fish and clothing for the traders. During these years people suffered from disease and malnutrition. It was a dark, traumatic period when many thousands died.

After 1818 reform in the management of the Russian-American Company brought some relief. Alaska Natives officially became employees instead of slaves. Atrocities ended, and health care and education systems were put in place. Missionaries of the Russian Orthodox Church were influential in seeking better conditions. The U.S. government took over Alaska in 1867. In the new government and mission schools, children were beaten for speaking either Sugcestun or Russian. Educational policies were aimed at bringing about the assimilation of all to American speech, values and beliefs.

This history created complex feelings about identity. During two hundred years of Western contact and cultural change, Indigenous identity had been devalued and even shamed. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971 put a new twist on the situation. Anyone who had a one-quarter of Native blood was eligible to enroll, meaning that he or she would receive shares in the village and regional Native corporations. This was the first time for many that being Native had any positive benefits. The new opportunity generated tension when people redefined themselves and heard comments such as “He was never a Native before land claims!”

There was much turmoil, infighting, and litigation during the early days of ANCSA. The Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA), a nonprofit established to pursue land claims and later ran Native health and education programs, came under fire. When I became president of KANA in 1983, I was asked to rebuild the organization. Elders advised that the biggest reason for our problems was that people had lost touch with who they were. They didn’t know their history, and the traditional values of sharing and cooperation had been lost. We turned our efforts to cultural rebuilding through dance, traditional arts, kayak building, language renewal, archaeology, oral history, youth-elder programs and more. The idea was to build knowledge, pride, visibility and self-esteem as a pathway for healing. From the beginning we wanted to have a museum and cultural center that people would feel belonged to them and where they could celebrate their culture. The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository opened its doors in 1995 and has realized the vision we held.

Ceremony and Celebration

Most Sugpiat have a firm belief that if not for the Russian Orthodox Church, the people would have been lost entirely. The population was in serious decline when Orthodox monks traveled to Kodiak in the 1790s. They were shocked at the conditions they saw, and the Church exerted its influence with the czar to ameliorate illegal practices of the Russian-American Company. That is why the Orthodox faith was embraced and why it has persisted so strongly to the present day.

Sugpiaq people recognized connections and similarities between their own spiritual concepts and those of the new religion. They believed in Lam Sua, the “person of the universe,” who as a supreme and all-knowing deity became equated with God. Their kassat (wise men) consulted with deities subordinate to Lam Sua and directed the performance of religious ceremonies. In these functions they were similar to priests who conducted Orthodox worship.

Traditional hunting ceremonies, held in October through March, were a means of communicating with sky gods and the spirits of animals. Performances and rituals wove together the arts of song, narrative, masking and dance. Visitors were invited from neighboring villages to share in rich feasts, gift giving and trade. These rituals continued in some communities until the late 1800s, coexisting with widespread Orthodox conversion. Over time, the Native practice of Russian Orthodoxy has absorbed certain aspects of the older winter ceremonies.

Cultural revitalization has taken hold in the Sugpiaq region since the 1980s, bringing new confidence and visibility to our people and culture. We have come a long way since the days when many suffered embarrassment and even shame to see the dance, regalia and cultural vibrancy of other Alaska Native peoples while not having our own to share publicly. We’ve listened to elders, encouraged Native language and arts, and reconsidered the meaning of events, some terrible and traumatic, that shaped who we are today. Sugpiaq young people have gained an appreciation for their rightful place in the world.

Tags: Sugpiaq, Alutiiq, Alaska Native, Indigenous, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

The Survival Game after Columbus: Pigs, Weeds, and Other Players

This 1991 issue of Art to Zoo examines the colonization of the Americas, focusing on
diseases from Europe and the population growth of European domesticated animals.
In the lesson, students consider the fight for survival when two worlds meet.
Click the PDF issue to download.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

The Survivors Who Haunt Us: Developing Global Competence by Understanding the Power of Resilience

These materials address a unit on resilience and global competence as related to and extended from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  #SAAMteach

Yolanda Toni

The Things Clinton Walters Carries

Clinton Walters was born in Carrolton Illinois in 1978. He is married to Stacy Walters. They have two sons, Hunter and Parker. They attend church every week at First Baptist  in Bethalto. Their family enjoys traveling around the country. These  items portray what is important to Clinton Walters. Walters life revolves around his love for family. His life is full of adventures, you never know what the Walters’ family will do next. Marriage, religion, and traveling is always an exciting experience while being accompanied by family. His wedding band is a constant reminder of his wife. Traveling is a way for Walters to connect with his family. His Bible was given to him by his parents and his faith is very important to him.  

Walters, Clinton. Personal interview. 21 February 2019.

Madelyn Ehlers

The Things Gavin Carries

A collection of simple but important items that Gavin carries around with him daily almost everywhere he goes. They show how important preparedness and connection with others are to him, as well as how he values the precious memories he has with the important people in his life.

Gavin Witsken

The Things I (Emma) Carry

The things I carry

Emma Brannon

The things I (Raeann) Carry

Here are the small things in my life that I found weigh the most. 


The Things I Carry

A Collection of items I carry on myself in everyday life. Each item has a description of how I obtained said object, it's appearance as well as what it means to me and why I carry the item everyday. Each object has a special meaning to me and a story behind it. This collection gives each object a history and a face, of sorts. These are some of the things that I carry each day.

Hana Harlan

The Things I Carry

All of the items that I picked are very materialist, however, to me they mean a lot more. If people just saw that I had these items in general they would think that I am spoiled and get everything I want handed to me. However, this is not the case, each of these items mean something very special to me and I carry them with me everyday.

Toby Singleton

The Things I Carry


The Things I Carry

Meg Bosse

The Things I Carry

Here is my short list of things that I carry on me everyday. All of these items have some type of connection in their own unique way. My parents got me the bracelet and it means to stay humble and/or hopeful. My grandpa gave me the necklace, and it means a lot to me because my grandma recently passed away and it is a reminder to stay resilient and patience. It also reminds me of her. My dad got me the phone, and it doesn't necessarily mean a lot to me but it is very useful to capture memories, and capture places I've been and people I've experienced places with.

Travis Hilligoss
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