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Found 946 Collections

 

The Renwick Gallery

musekooo
118
 

The Respect of Ancient Egyptian Women and Their Role In Society Through Visual Art

I come from a family of very strong and independent women, and I was raised in a feminist household and was taught that there is power in femininity. When I began at UMASS online, I immediately chose Gender Studies as one of my concentrations as I am fascinated with woman’s evolution through time. While we are only just now on the brink of true equality, there are some examples from specific cultures in history that show the power of women. I chose to look closely at Egypt from its earliest cultures through the New Kingdom. My hope is that this collection will exemplify the power that was evident in a woman in this time period. My main sources of study were Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Lab.

Visual art can be an influential force. I feel that it is a direct and tangible example of how the artist sees it’s subject (person, place, object, thought or idea), and that perception is molded by culture, values, lessons, and history. Reactions to visual art can spark debate, deeper thought, an emotional response, or even desire to learn more about the culture or time period it was created. I hope what I have put together here will spark one of those things in my viewers. I really hope that it will put our view of women into perspective. We have evolved so much since this time in our thoughts of equality, worth, capability, representation and I hope to show that in following collections with examples from different cultures and time periods.

In Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities there is a section in Chapter 1 about Queen Hatshepsut and how she was viewed as a powerful and important ruling figure in a male dominated world. I think this is important to note as we don’t read very much about women figureheads during this time. She was respected, trusted, and listened to. She was valued by her people which is exemplified in her tomb. It is described in the text as, “constructed of repeated elements- colonnaded terraces with columnar porticoes…halls, and private chambers. The three terraces are connected by ramps to the cliff…These chambers are chapels to the god Amen; to the cow-headed goddess Hathor, who protects the dead; and to the queen herself…sculpture was used lavishly; there were perhaps two hundred statues in Hatshepsut’s funerary temple” (Benton 27). It bears noting the love and respect for one woman in 1458 B.C.E. Women were also praised in the form of goddesses, ruling over things such as truth, justice, order, hunt, etc.

What I have put together in this collection represents the significance of women at this point in history.    

Benton, Janetta Rebold, and Robert DiYanni. Arts and Culture: an Introduction to the Humanities. Pearson, 2014.

#AHMC2019

Dana Cox
6
 

The Roman Empire

As I am writing this I am sitting in a cafe shop in a small town on an island Sardinia in Italy. To this day, the remains of the Roman Empire and it's architecture can be found all over the island, which sparked an interest in me for that great culture and it makes me want to focus this project on that. This project focuses on the architecture of the great Roman empire and the influence that the architecture of the Roman Empire, changes in the way this Culture express itself trough architecture and art work within that architecture. When traveling to a new place, I believe the first thing people notice is the architecture and then they look within. This is exactly what this project will try to do.   

This collection will focus on art throughout of history or Roman Empire and Italy as we know it today. It will start from the Ancient Greece where early Roman Empire drew most of it’s inspiration for art  and architecture and connect various different forms of art and how it interacted with the history of this great nation. I hope you enjoy the collection. 

 #AHMC2019

Ivan Abramovic
18
 

The Science of Wind and Sound through Artwork

Artwork, museums, and the community are powerful resources to bring concepts to life with young children. This collection provides examples of how to utilize museums and the community to explore STEM concepts, specifically the science of wind and sound through artwork. 

This collection was created to support the 2018 CCSSO Teacher of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.  

#NTOY18

Brooke Shoemaker
18
 

The Search for an American Identity

We live in a multicultural, multilingual, multinational America, which offers complicated, imposing, unsettling questions about American identity.  There are no easy answers to what is an American identity or perhaps no answers at all.  What is an American identity is an important subject in an ever changing America, and Smithsonian Institution exhibits and objects on display in various museums help us to seek answers to the question of what is identity and what is American identity.

Mimi Mann
156
 

The Search for an American Identity: Smithsonian-Montgomery College Faculty Fellowship 2019 Opening Panel Resources

This collection serves as an introduction to the opening panel of the 2019 Smithsonian-Montgomery College Faculty Fellowship Program. This year's theme is “The Search for an American Identity: Building a Nation Together.” Three Smithsonian staff members will present at the opening panel, including David Penney (Associate Director of Research and Scholarship at the National Museum of the American Indian), Ranald Woodaman (Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Smithsonian Latino Center), and Paula Johnson (Curator at the National Museum of American History). Their bios, presentation descriptions, and other resources are included inside.

As you explore the resources be sure to jot down any questions you may have for the presenters. 

It's going to be a great seminar series!


#MCteach

Philippa Rappoport
17
 

The Smithsonian's Caribbean Indigenous Legacies Project: Celebrating Taíno Culture

This topical collection contains information about the Smithsonian's Caribbean Indigenous Legacies Project: Celebrating Taíno Culture, with links to the Heye Center exhibition, "Taíno : Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean," and to a related public program/webcast, "Taíno: A Symposium in Conversation with the Movement," from the National Museum of the American Indian. 

Philippa Rappoport
6
 

The Soul's Expression: Identity, Individuality, & the Spirit in Visual Art

Art provides a pathway for individuals to express their inner self while also capturing the outer—this great wide world so intricate it's difficult to define.  Throughout history, humans have sought to  comprehend both their environment and their own inherent cultural uniqueness. This search has become symbolized in their artistic accomplishments and aesthetic heritage. Whether through representations of specific individuals and the human figure or awe-inspiring works of architecture, these art pieces are a window into the creative core of our past. 

In this collection, we will observe the ways in which the soul/spirit has been expressed in art, and how human creativity sheds light upon both individual and cultural identities and its varied interpretations throughout the ages. This collection is organized in three symbolic steps on a stone staircase entitled "The Stone Path of Eternity." To truly travel through each piece, I have included an image, a brief description of the work under information, and then, signified by the yellow (1) above, I've provided my own analysis and interpretation of the piece in its relationship to the collection theme. 

Through lingering through the "Stone Path of Eternity," which is represented by the first two tiles, we will from one stone to the next in seeking the many ways in which the soul's expression can be defined. 

In Stone Number One, "The Spirit's Encased Construct," we'll see how architecture and large-scale artistic projects merge to reflect both cultural identity and the individuality of their leaders through works from ancient Babylonia, Egypt, the Byzantine Empire and into the combinations made possible by the aesthetic  innovations of modern times. 

Shifting step to Stone Number Two, "Human Identity Immortalized in Matter," we delve into the ways in which the human figure is represented and what these images can share with us in terms of the varying levels, purposes, intentions behind the artist's created expressions and impact of depicting the Spirit on Earth. This idea is exemplified in creations ranging from the Paleolithic period to modern times, with examples from Egypt, Ancient Greece,  the Italian Renaissance and the 20th century popular culture. 

Finally, in Stone Number Three,"Individuals and Spirituality Entwine," we step into the door of the spirit directly, traveling through the many methods which cultures apply in trying to simultaneously convey and understand what realms are in union with and beyond this life.  Some cultures who address this idea in their artistic tradition are seen in instances of Egyptian art and work from ancient and Hellenistic Greece, as well as both the Italian Renaissance, Northern European Renaissance, and contemporary Western art. 

 The intended audience for this collection is just as varied as my subject matter. Those who might be drawn to this collection are people attracted to the enigmas of life and death, who have questioned their place in society and the mysteries this world has to hold, and are curious to know more about how, historically, cultures have related to these probing questions—for, as you will see, they certainly have existed as long as humans have walked the earth. No matter if you're in high school, college, or beyond formal education, I hope you will find my musings on these artworks and their meanings compelling and thought-provoking. 

Renowned artist and poet William Blake once wrote, "To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour."   From the most abstract art to the remarkably realistic, there is always an image of ourselves, in the an esoteric sense, waiting to be found within.  With its timeless method, Art seeks to create a definition for this all-encompassing and ever-evading essence and I hope to continue that quest with you as we explore this collection. #AHMC2019

Emma Geller
30
 

The St. Lawrence Island Yupik People and Their Culture

By Paapi Merlin Koonooka (St. Lawrence Island Yupik ), 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

Sivuqaq, the Yupik name for St. Lawrence Island, rises out of the Bering Sea in the heart of a vast and bountiful marine ecosystem. All around us, depending on the time of year, we have walrus, whales and seals. Standing on the point at Gambell, you can watch ducks and seabirds flying by in endless motion over the sea. Our island lies just below the Arctic Circle, so the winters are long and often extreme. The wind gusts at fifty miles per hour, and the wind chill can get to minus fifty degrees Fahrenheit or lower. When spring and summer bring longer daylight and new life, people travel out from the villages of Gambell and Savoonga to their hunting and fishing camps around the island. Many of those places are ancient settlements where our ancestors lived up to two thousand years ago.

I was born and raised in Gambell and have been a subsistence hunter there for my entire life, going back to when we traveled with dog teams instead of on snow machines and all-terrain vehicles. Marine mammals, fish, birds, eggs, reindeer and wild plants are important in the island diet throughout the year, far more so than store-bought foods. On the tundra and mountainsides people gather ququngaq (willow leaf), nunivak (roseroot), angukaq (dwarf fireweed) and various edible roots. In late summer the aqavzik (cloudberry) and pagunghaq (crowberry) ripen.

Walrus have always been essential to our way of life. We hunt them in open water and later on the frozen ocean, making use of nearly everything as either food or material. The meat and fat are bundled into large tuugtuq (meatballs) to store in underground food cellars, and in the past that meat sustained our dog teams as well. Good-quality hides of female walrus are stretched, split, cured and stitched to cover the angyapik (hunting boat). Walrus stomachs become heads for drums, and their intestines, ivory and whiskers are transformed into adornment and art. Our predecessors used the skins to make tough rope and covers for the nenglu (traditional house) and interior aargha (sleeping room). They spun walrus sinew into thread and carved the tusks into tools and sled runners.

I am a whaling captain like my grandfather, granduncles and father before me, and I serve on the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. Traditionally, the captain prepared for whaling in a religious way, using charms, special songs and rituals that showed the great respect we feel for this animal. While these rituals are no longer practiced, strict hunting protocols and the responsibility of the captain remain unchanged. A bowhead whale is so immense and powerful that hunters, even though armed with modern weapons, are really at its mercy. We use skin-covered boats and sails rather than motors during the approach, keeping absolute silence, because whales have a very sharp sense of hearing. But they know we are there even if there is no sound. That is why we say that a whale decides to let itself be taken, not the other way around. One whale provides an abundance of food that is shared with families on the island and across Alaska.

Our hunting lifestyle has never been harmful to the animal species. Nature has her own way of opening up the ice and sea for us or withholding access. During storms we have to stay at home and wait for a change. When the weather is nice, the conditions may still not be right for going out, even if walrus are floating by on top of the ice floes. Sometimes we will be punished this way if we’ve failed in our respect. But as long as the creatures make themselves available to us, we will gather them for food and traditional needs.


Community and Family

The people of the island have close ties to the Yupik communities of Ungaziq and Sireniki on the Siberian coast, and we speak dialects of the same language. Before the cold war began in the late 1940s, our families traveled back and forth to visit, trade and seek marriage partners. The forty-mile trip took a full day in a skin boat using sail and paddles. Visits resumed in the 1980s after glasnost took hold in Russia, and now with a fast powerboat and calm seas, the crossing takes only two or three hours.

Some of my best memories from childhood are of traveling with my dad. He had a wonderful dog team, and in the wintertime we would go on the sled to trap white fox. Even in the summer we’d take it across the gravel and tundra. When I started raising a family I did the same thing. We would hitch up a team of twelve dogs to pull our heavy sled, which was nine feet long with steel runners. As a child you really look forward to going out with your parents and elders for food gathering and hunting, because you want to learn.

I sometimes think of early days when everyone was living in nenglut (traditional houses). They would go seal hunting on the ice, pulling whale baleen toboggans behind them to bring back the meat. You had a backpack and a rifle slung over your shoulders and an ice tester to see where it was safe to walk. You had to observe the ice and the direction it was moving, making sure not to get caught on an outgoing current. Boys were doing all that by the age of ten or twelve, and by fifteen you had to know everything. Your parents and elders made sure you were ready, or you weren’t allowed to go alone.

Our culture is changing rapidly in some ways, more slowly in others. Fluency in the Yupik language is declining in the younger generations, although among the older people our daily conversation continues to be in Yupik. There is less respect among some young people now for their parents and elders, too much television and video gaming, problems with drugs and alcohol. We need to find a balance between traditional and modern ways, and I believe the best way to do that is through education. If you can be successful in your formal education, you will be in a strong position to help preserve your Yupik heritage. I’m glad to see so many young people still going out with their families to the places where we have always hunted and fished, even if now they travel on machines instead of on foot or by dog sled. They are still eating the same foods that we have always gathered and staying connected to our land and way of life.

 

Ceremony and Celebration

The remoteness of the island has helped to sustain some of the ways of our forebears. The practices of atuq and aghula (Yupik drumming, singing and dancing) were never interrupted, despite the introduction of Christianity, and people continue to compose new songs and motions. Both communities on the island hold dance celebrations where we welcome visitors and performers from mainland Alaska, Russia and beyond. Other ceremonies are more family-oriented, marking life events such as marriage and the birth and naming of a child. When a young person catches his first seal, a special small celebration is held to share the catch with relatives, making sure that everyone gets a taste. The same thing happens with your first bird.

Many of the former ceremonial practices pertained to hunting, especially whaling. To prepare for the season, a captain would use certain songs that were specific to each clan. The purpose was to please the whale spirits. When the hunters captured a whale, the boats would come back in a line with the successful captain and crew in front. Everyone was deeply thankful, and they celebrated by feasting, singing and dancing. That feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the food that has been provided is just as strong today, even though our beliefs and customs have been modified.

The Yupik culture has a very long, rich history, and at the Smithsonian you will see artifacts that our ancestors created hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Today many of the island’s residents are world-renowned Native artists whose work is shown in national and international museums and art galleries. Some of the ivory they use comes from archaeological sites, and this material, crucial to sustaining life generations ago, is equally important today because of the income generated by art sales. But much more than that, their work is a celebration of our culture, heritage and continuing way of life.

Tags: St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Yupik, Alaska Native, Indigenous, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
20
 

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.

MADDIE YP
16
 

The Tlingit People and Their Culture

Coming soon!

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
2
 

The Tsimshian People and Their Culture

Coming soon!

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
2
 

The Unangax̂ (Aleut) People and Their Culture

By Alice Petrivelli (Unangax̂), 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

More than three hundred Aleutian Islands clustered in groups stretch westward across the Pacific from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. In summertime they are just gorgeous. The mountains are snow-capped, with green grass and tundra plants spreading up their sides. Even out on the water you can smell the flowers. In fall the vegetation turns shades of red and brown, and in winter there is a clear, blue, endless sky between periods of storm. The islands have no trees, but driftwood from around the whole North Pacific washes up on our beaches. People of the Aleutians call themselves Unangax̂, meaning “sea-sider.” We are also called Aleuts – a name first used by Russian fur traders in the eighteenth century.  

To our south is the Pacific Ocean, to our north the Bering Sea. Everything our ancestors did was connected to the marine world around us. They built beautiful kayaks with split bow tips to cut swiftly through the waves. Their clothing was made of sea mammal hides and intestines and the feathered skins of ocean birds. The sea provided nearly all of our ancestors’ food – seals, sea lions, ducks, salmon, all kinds of fish and shellfish—and that’s still true today. From the time we’re little we’re taught to respect the water and to keep it clean, because that’s where our living comes from.

I was born in 1929 on the far western island of Atka and grew up speaking the Niiĝux̂ dialect of Unangam Tunuu (the Unangax̂ language). Until 1942 we used to go camping all summer. With the first warm days of spring we would travel by boat to Amlia Island, where we planted potatoes and other vegetables. Gardening was impossible on Atka, because rats had invaded from a shipwreck sometime in the past. We fished for cod and halibut, and later in the summer we’d fish for red, pink and dog salmon. We preserved fish by salting, drying, and smoking. We lived mostly on subsistence resources, because the supply ship came to Atka only twice a year, bringing in the staples we needed: butter, flour and sugar. Growing up I learned to fillet fish, hunt birds, harvest grass for weaving baskets, and gather roots, plants, and shellfish.

Community and Family

We have always had strong leaders in our communities. Traditionally a chief would inherit his position, but for his authority to be recognized he had to excel as a hunter and be spiritual, generous, fair and kind in his dealings with the people. The shamans, or medicine men, took care of the people’s medical needs. They possessed detailed knowledge of the human body and had names for every part of it, both inside and out. There were no elections until the U.S. government started them in the 1930s.

Russian fur traders came to the islands in the mid-eighteenth century following Vitus Bering’s discovery that sea otters were abundant there. The Russians set up a colony that lasted until 1867, and they were cruel, especially in the early years. They enslaved the people, forcing the men to hunt and the women to serve the traders. The population declined as a result of this mistreatment and disease until the majority of our people and over two-thirds of the original villages were lost. The Orthodox Church urged the Russian government to treat the people more kindly, and the situation improved. The Russians built schools to educate the Aleuts, and when the United States came in they reeducated us in the American way.

In December 1941, I was a twelve-year-old school girl when our teacher told us that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. In April we learned that an invasion of the Aleutian Islands was feared and that the United States wanted to get us out of the way of the war. Only a few weeks later the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and invaded Attu and Kiska islands, at the west end of the chain. In June a U.S. Navy ship came to Atka to evacuate everyone. Before leaving, the navy burned our village to the ground, even the church. It was devastating to the whole community. No one was allowed to get anything from the houses before they were destroyed, and we left with only the clothes on our backs. No one told us our destination.

All of the Unangax̂ refugees were taken to internment camps in southeast Alaska. My family was at Killisnoo until 1945. It was very poorly set up, and we had little food and no medicine or appropriate housing. In that two and a half-year period we lost almost all of our elders and newborns, a total of seventeen deaths out of eighty-five who had left Atka together. We almost lost our culture entirely because of that, and the way I grew up no longer exists.

Before the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 everyone had summer camps. When we got food, we shared it, and you could use another person’s camp as long as you kept it clean and replenished what you used. Land claims introduced the word "mine," as in, “That’s mine. You can’t use it.” After that, people didn’t share as much and started expecting to be paid to do things instead of just helping, as in building a house. And the Native corporation leaders didn’t want to involve elders in the new enterprises, thinking they were too old and not ready to do things in the Western way.

Those were the negative effects of land claims, but things have improved over the years, and ANCSA has brought us many benefits. I first went to work for the Aleut Corporation as a receptionist in 1972 and was eventually employed in each of the departments. I wrote up land selections, helped with the accounting, and ended up getting elected to the board in 1976. I served until 2008, including a long term as president. It was a challenging and terrifying ride, because we were a “have not” corporation with no forests, oil or minerals on our lands to generate profits. Yet we needed to do the best we could to support our communities and shareholders. Your heart really has to be in it, because it takes a lot of personal sacrifice.

Ceremony and Celebration

Father Yakov Netsvetov (later Saint Yakov), whose mother came from our island, was the first resident priest. He consecrated the church on Atka in 1830, and ever since then Russian Orthodoxy has been a foundation of community life. Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter and other feast days mark our calendar of worship and celebration. Starring and masking – still practiced in some villages during the midwinter holidays – are similar to rituals carried out before the Russians came.

The original Unangax̂ festivals were held in the fall and winter, when people celebrated successful hunting and food gathering and asked for the animals to return. Those ceremonies survived Russian rule but were banned after the United States took over in 1867. In the decades that followed, the Aleuts adopted new music and dances for fun and entertainment, such as polkas, two-steps and waltzes. Since 1992, groups of young people have formed to restore and perform some of the original Unangax̂ dances.

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
20
 

The Valentine Dress

The Valentine Dress is the focus of a Visual Arts Lesson beginning with the Slow Look Strategy. This is followed with three ideas that may be incorporated into a high school fundamentals class. #npgteach

Vanessa Sales
11
 

The Virgin Mary

This is a topical collection of artworks related to the Virgin Mary, a religious figure honored by many faiths and particularly revered in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Compare the many ways that Mary is portrayed across the globe. How is she posed? Are others included in the image? What colors or symbols are prevalent?

This collection gives insight not only into the religious significance of Mary, but also into the spread and adaptation of Christianity as it is practiced in various parts of the world. In addition, viewers might consider how different artists add their unique perspective to a common and widely-known subject.

tags: religion, Christianity, Jesus, Maria, Mary, Virgen, Virgin, Madonna, Maria, Theotokos, comparison

Kate Harris
25
 

The Women Who Made a Difference

This collections displays notable women from the ancient times who made an impact on history, starting with the first Queen of Egypt, Hatshepsut

Though most rulers in the ancient (and classical) world were men, some women wielded power and influence. 

Some ruled in their own name, some influenced their world as royal consorts, but they all made an impact during the ancient times.

bridgette
7
 

The Women Who Made a Difference

This collection represents the women of the Ancient Times who made a difference in their respective civilizations.

Those female figures held powerful roles, and played significantly influential parts in the domains traditionally held by men. Their names are still known today.

Enheduanna, the earliest known poet, helped her father to unite the Akkadians and the Sumerians through poetry, while Sappho, brought us a lyrical poetry, she would talk about love, feelings, and woman (from a woman’s point of view). Her poetry was unlike others; previous and current poets at the time were male and wrote about events that focused on the Gods and men in general.

Queen Nefertiti together with her husband united Egyptian people under one god, the Sun God.

Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt, secured her position—and her Egypt’s independence—through her influence over Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, some of the most powerful Western men of the time

Artemisia of Halicarnassus, also known as Artemisia I of Caria, is credited with persuading Persian King Xerxes to abandon his invasion of Greece.

As we can see, ancient history has many strong female figures, and their names echo down history to the present day.

bbridgette
7
 

The World of Music

What would life be without music? Music is used throughout our everyday lives. Music was used for musicals, plays, films, TV shows with no words, like the show Tom and Jerry, and still is used now days for those same reasons and much more. Life without music is a life without color and a life without being able to express yourself. Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places. It is a critical piece of individuals' way for living, as it creates a key part in religious customs, soul changing experiences (graduation and marriage), social exercises (dancing) and social activities.

Chalynn Wynn
10
 

The Yup'ik People and Their Culture

By Alice Aluskak Rearden (Yup'ik), 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 Yup’ik homeland in southwest Alaska extends from Bristol Bay to Norton Sound and centers on the great delta where the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers reach the sea. It is a country of treeless tundra, countless lakes and low mountain ranges. Almost seventy Yup’ik communities are situated along the Bering Sea coast and lower courses of the two rivers, including the Kuskokwim village of Napakiak, where I grew up.

Whenever I ask elders about the traditional way of life on this land, they always say, “Caperrnarqellruuq – how difficult, how daunting it was back then.” Previous generations had to master a wide range of specific knowledge that was critical to their survival. You can see the meticulous care they took in making their tools: with a harpoon, you had to know the right wood to use, where to attach the lines, and how to balance it perfectly so that it would be effective. The values they lived by—cooperation, generosity, diligence, humility and respect for others—were just as important as skill and knowledge in sustaining their communities.

The contemporary Yup’ik lifestyle is easier than the traditional one, although people still work incredibly hard to provide for their families. We have Western schooling and such amenities as store-bought goods and clothing, although the cost of those things is high in rural Alaska. The environment around us remains the primary source of what we need, but it takes less effort to subsist by hunting and fishing with the guns, snow machines and other equipment that we depend on today than it took with the equipment of the past.

My grandparents helped care for me during childhood, and they were hard-working people who taught us how to honor Yup’ik values and utilize the resources of the land. I remember my grandmother preparing and preserving the food that my grandfather brought home from the wilderness in different seasons—blackfish, whitefish, migratory birds, caribou and moose. He had a full-time job, but was an active subsistence hunter as well. My grandmother was very concerned that we never waste food. Although she did not explain it directly, I came to understand that she was concerned that such negligence would show disrespect to the animals and diminish my grandfather’s success as a hunter.

Community and Family

At a certain time a child becomes aware of life. A baby will be sitting and looking around when an expression of surprise and delight comes to her face. My mom will say “Ellangartuq – she has just become aware.” Ella is the word for awareness, but it also means weather, the world, the universe; as human beings we gradually wake up to a consciousness of all that exists. Different stages of awareness occur during a child’s growth. For that reason it is important to be extremely careful around babies; their early perceptions will shape the rest of their lives. They will be stronger people later on if they have a quiet environment where they are never startled, or scared, or exposed to inappropriate behavior.

I grew up speaking Yup’ik as my first language and was also one of the first children to benefit from the bilingual education program that was started in the Napakiak schools. From kindergarten through elementary school I took classes that were taught in Yup’ik, and during those years I learned to read and write the language. Later on I took a Yup’ik course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and after graduation used my training to work as a Yup’ik transcriber and translator. The work was extremely difficult at first! I was not an expert in the subtleties of grammar and structure, and the speakers used terminology that was new to me. I had to ask many people about some of the words and to check that I fully understood their meanings. I was excited by what I was doing and found it rewarding to learn new aspects of Yup’ik culture and history.

In listening to elders’ words, I have been impressed by the passion they feel about young people learning to appreciate the traditional values so that they can lead better lives and contribute to the health of their communities. Elders see how much has been lost as a result of cultural and material change and the shift away from Yup’ik ways of learning, being and speaking. Alcoholism, loss of respect for others, broken families and hopelessness come from losing that vital connection to cultural knowledge and identity.

Ceremony and Celebration

Our traditional spiritual life was based on the recognition that all things have ella, awareness. Elders were taught that if you are out walking and see a piece of driftwood sticking out of the mud, you should pull it out and turn it over so that the muddy part can dry. That piece of wood is alive and aware, and it will feel gratitude for your kindness.

Elders have told us about the masked dance ceremonies of the past. The winter celebrations honored the yuit, or inner persons, of the animals, and the dances were a kind of prayer that asked for these spirits to give their physical bodies to meet the needs of the community. Shamans made carvings or masks representing animals – walrus, caribou, seals and others. When the masks were danced in the qasgiq (community house), it was a petition for those animals to return in the spring. During Nakaciuryaraq, the Bladder Festival, the bladders of seals that had been taken by hunters during the year were returned to the sea through a hole in the ice, allowing those seals to be reborn in new bodies.

Kevgiq, the Messenger Feast, was a spring festival for sharing and bringing communities together. People worked hard throughout the year, gathering plants, hunting furs and harvesting food, and Kevgiq was a time to distribute some of what they had earned to others. Parents were especially proud if one of their children had contributed to the family’s effort for the first time – a son who brought home his first game or a daughter who caught a pike through the ice. Those events were recognized as rites of passage that meant the child was beginning a lifetime of providing for kin and community. By giving away at Kevgiq, a family ensured the future success of its children and the prosperity of the whole group. Villages still carry out the Messenger Feast tradition of inviting guests from other places and distributing presents to them. The dancing and gift-giving represent the same values as in the past, even if some of the items are store-bought goods. It is about giving generously to others and celebrating the success of the subsistence harvest.

Tags: Yup'ik, Alaska Native, Indigenous, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
20
 

Theatre Masks

Jean-Marie Galing
9
 

Then and Now: Native Voices in American History

Presented with the National Museum of the American Indian December 9, 2017 9:30a.m.–1:30 p.m.

What learning opportunities arise when we add complexity to “the story” of westward expansion? How can Native perspectives and contemporary events engage student historians-in-training? Leave with strategies and resources that will help you add depth and breadth to your teaching and inspire inquiry in the classroom.

Elizabeth Dale-Deines
18
 

Theodore Roszak in the Smithsonian collections

Theodore Roszak (1907-1981) was a Polish American painter and sculptor. He emigrated to the United States as a young child, and won the Logan Medal of Art by age 25. He later moved to New York and taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.

Included in this collection are several works of art and a podcast from the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. You can find other works by searching the collections.

Philippa Rappoport
20
 

Three Branches of U.S. Government

This collection was designed to be used in a third grade classroom to supplement the teaching of the three branches of U.S. government.  The collection would be utilized over the course of a week-long unit.

Objective: Students will be able to identify and explain the purpose of the three branches of the U.S. government.

#PZPGH

Monique Wertz
23
 

Three Mysterious American Writers: Comparison and Contrast

This collection includes paintings of Harold Hart Crane, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman that are blurry or undefined, and three photographs to show the actual appearance of these writers. In this student activity, students will be asked to look at the photographs and paintings of these American authors and form hypotheses to explain why the artists chose to blur them.  Students  will explore the commonalities and differences between the  paintings and photographs and use textual information or research to confirm their hypotheses. 

Hart Crane: Known for his poetry, he struggled financially and personally throughout his short life. See more information in the description box. 

Edgar Allan Poe: A poet and story writer of great originality, Poe suffered great poverty as one of the first Americans to try to make a living only as a writer. See more information in the description box. 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A feminist and social pioneer, Gilman also wrote stories, novels, and poetry. For more information on Gilman, see https://www.radcliffe.harvard....

1. What commonalities and differences do the paintings have? Create a list.

2. What emotions do these commonalities and differences provoke?

3. How do emotions affect the way one perceives an image? Compare and contrast the artworks with their photographic portraits. 

5. What information do photographs provide to deepen understanding of the paintings? 

Tags: poets; authors; mystery; creative writing; memoir; poetry; experimental writing.

Samantha Castaneda
7
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