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Found 947 Collections

 

U.S. Dollars in Liberia

The Value of Money exhibition's new acquisition case is currently featuring a display on the use of U.S. Dollars in Liberia.  This Learning Lab makes this display available digitally. 

U.S. Dollars in Liberia 

From 1820 to 1904, about 16,000 people formerly enslaved in the United States sailed to West Africa and established the country now known as Liberia. The American Colonization Society, which sought to create a colony in Africa for formerly enslaved people, issued currency like this 1833 token and established a government led by white officials. 

In 1847 Liberian migrants declared independence from the American Colonization Society and issued their own coins as a symbol of nationhood. The coins were minted in England and circulated alongside indigenous currencies like the Kissi penny. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Liberian government struggled with debt, making it difficult for the Liberian dollar to maintain its value. As a result, merchants and then the government began to use the colonial currency of British West Africa instead. 

In 1943, with financial help from the U.S. government, the U.S. dollar replaced British West African shillings as the primary currency in circulation. The Liberian dollar continued to be in use as small change. Today Liberia is one of few nations with a dual currency system, as both American and Liberian dollars circulate alongside each other. In 2019 the National Numismatic Collection acquired contemporary Liberian banknotes to help tell this story. 

Suggested Reading:

Gardner, Leigh A. "The rise and fall of sterling in Liberia, 1847-1943." Economic History Review 67, no. 4 (2014): pp. 1089-1112. 

Rosenberg, Emily S. Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy 1900-1830. Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2007. 


 To see all of the West African currency objects in the National Numismatic Collection, click here.  Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Leigh Gardner or Dr. Ellen Feingold with questions or feedback.

This project was generously funded by the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund at the London School of Economics. It was completed in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection.




NMAH and London School of Economics
7
 

Twining Cedar videos

Red cedar bark twined basketry is a distinctive Tsimshian art form. With the passing on of elder master artists and the demands of contemporary lifestyles, it became at risk. A handful of weavers today are working to master and revitalize twined cedarbark basketry, reconnecting with a proud heritage. In 2016, the Arctic Studies Center collaborated with The Haayk Foundation of Metlakatla to document the materials and techniques of cedarbark basketry. The project included a harvesting and processing workshop and a weaving workshop in Metlakatla, and a residency at the Arctic Studies Center in Anchorage where artists studied baskets from museum and private collections, practiced and refined weaving techniques, and taught museum visitors and school children about basketry.

Teaching was led by Haida master weaver Delores Churchill, who learned from master Tsimshian weaver Flora Mather, with assistance from her daughter Holly Churchill, an accomplished weaver. In addition to Metlakatla students, three advanced Tsimshian weavers participated in the project, sharing techniques learned in their families and communities and learning new ones: Kandi McGilton (co-founder of The Haayk Foundation), Karla Booth (granddaughter of Tsimshian master weaver Violet Booth) and Annette Topham (niece of master Tsimshian weaver Lillian Buchert). Metlakatla elder Sarah Booth, a fluent speaker of Sm’algyax (Ts’msyen), assisted Kandi McGilton in documenting indigenous basketry terminology for use in language classes.

The videos below pair with a bilingual guide included here. The videos provide an introduction to the artists and to Tsimshian twined cedarbark baskets, and they provide instruction on how to harvest and process materials and on how to weave a basket from start to finish. A twined cedarbark basket from the Smithsonian collections is also included below.

Tags: Alaska, Native art, museum, education, Indigenous, Tsimshian, cedar, bark, Metlakatla, weaving, basket, David Boxley, Kandi McGilton, Delores Churchill, Karla Booth, Annette Topham, Holly Churchill, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
18
 

Tsimshian Bilingual Guide: Twining Cedar

Red cedar bark twined basketry is a distinctive Tsimshian art form. With the passing on of elder master artists and the demands of contemporary lifestyles, it became at risk. A handful of weavers today are working to master and revitalize twined cedarbark basketry, reconnecting with a proud heritage. In 2016, the Arctic Studies Center collaborated with The Haayk Foundation of Metlakatla to document the materials and techniques of cedarbark basketry. The project included a harvesting and processing workshop and a weaving workshop in Metlakatla, and a residency at the Arctic Studies Center in Anchorage where artists studied baskets from museum and private collections, practiced and refined weaving techniques, and taught museum visitors and school children about basketry.

Teaching was led by Haida master weaver Delores Churchill, who learned from master Tsimshian weaver Flora Mather, with assistance from her daughter Holly Churchill, an accomplished weaver. In addition to Metlakatla students, three advanced Tsimshian weavers participated in the project, sharing techniques learned in their families and communities and learning new ones: Kandi McGilton (co-founder of The Haayk Foundation), Karla Booth (granddaughter of Tsimshian master weaver Violet Booth) and Annette Topham (niece of master Tsimshian weaver Lillian Buchert). Metlakatla elder Sarah Booth, a fluent speaker of Sm’algyax (Ts’msyen), assisted Kandi McGilton in documenting indigenous basketry terminology for use in language classes.

The bilingual guide below pairs with a set of 15 instructional videos included here. The guide provides step-by-step details about cedarbark basketry from harvesting materials to twining techniques in Sm’algya̱x (the Tsimshian language) and English. A twined cedarbark basket from the Smithsonian collections is also included below.

Tags: Alaska, Native art, museum, education, Indigenous, Tsimshian, cedar, bark, Metlakatla, weaving, basket, David Boxley, Kandi McGilton, Delores Churchill, Karla Booth, Annette Topham, Holly Churchill, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
18
 

Truth-Force Heroes

Examining the transformational power of non-violence - an everlasting truth-force! 

#SJ2019LP

Esteban Hernandez
4
 

Trude Guermonprez

Trude Guermonprez (1910-1979) was a highly regarded textile designer born in Germany. Guermonperz immigrated to America and began teaching weaving at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina until the weaving program there ended. Trude Guermonperz then went on to teach at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), and finally at California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as the California College of Art & Design) where she became chair of the department. Through her teaching Guermonperz had an enormous impact on American weavers, many cite her as an influence and inspiration. Trude Guermonprez's work includes designs that were completed for clients and industry as well as broad collection of highly experimental pieces. This collection includes examples of functional designs for clients, experimental designs and samples, as well as a selection of her beautifully rendered sketches for designs.

This collection focuses on the objects within the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum collection from Trude Guermonprez, yet also includes photographs of the designer from the Archives of American Art.

#BecauseOfHerStory

Cooper Hewitt Education Department
49
 

Triumph and Tragedy at the National Portrait Gallery

This Learning Lab collection has been created to support the 2019 National History Day theme, Triumph and Tragedy in History. Utilizing portraits and other resources from the National Portrait Gallery, this collection is organized by Topics within the Triumph and Tragedy theme. 

Be sure to check out the following at the end of the collection: 

-Reading Portraiture Guide for Educators highlights close looking strategies that can be used with the portraits listed

-Triumph and Tragedy In History Theme Book from National History Day 2019

#NHD2019 #NHD

#NPGteach


Briana White
105
 

Traqueros, part 3: The Art of Martín Ramírez (1895–1963)

Martín Ramírez (1895–1963) was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1925 to work in California as a miner and a traquero. Poverty and his need to seek steady work forced him to leave his wife Ana and their four children in Mexico. The Great Depression left him unemployed, and acute mental illness led him to be remanded to the DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California in 1948, where he lived until his death in 1963.

As told by the curators at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: "Around 1948, Ramírez began to draw on an eclectic array of paper surfaces—brown wrapping paper, laundry lists, paper cups, old letters—which were glued together to form a unified drawing area. He made use of a variety of tools and techniques, including crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, ink, and collage.

"Ramírez's motifs reflect his life in two distinct cultures. His highly patterned, intricate drawings present fantastic renditions of subjects such as Mexican soldiers, Madonnas, prairie dogs, cars, and trains. In terms of technique, what is most extraordinary in Ramírez's art is his use of line to create the many different kinds of space—niches, frames, stages—in which his protagonists are placed. Although flatness characterizes the overall effect of his technique, the numerous parallel lines in Ramírez's work bring about a sense of visual depth."

About 450 of Martin Ramirez's drawings and collages are known to exist. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest autodidactic artists. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions at museums around the world, including the Centro cultural/Arte contemporáneo in Mexico City (1989), the American Folk Art Museum in New York City (2007, 2009), and the Museo nacional centro de arte Reína Sofía in Madrid (2010).

#EthnicStudies #MexicanAmericans #Traqueros #Railroads #SelfTaught #Latinos #Chicanos #Artists #MartinRamirez

David Colon
5
 

Tools for Meditation

Are you interested in meditation? This topical collection includes a variety of tools for meditation, including mandalas, music, prayer beads, labyrinths, and a video of a guided meditation and pranayama (breathing) practice. Web links to additional background information are embedded throughout.
Kate Harris
16
 

Today's Modern Latino Art

Street smart and brash with a fresh approach! This collection has freedom to express yourself all within the confines of our present society.

Renee Mills
7
 

Timeline of Ancient China (5000 BCE - 220 CE)

This collection contains an interactive timeline of the art and archaeology of Ancient China from about 5000 BCE to 220 CE. It includes information on each period in this time range: Late Neolithic period, Erlitou culture, Shang dynasty, Western Zhou dynasty, Eastern Zhou dynasty, Qin dynasty, and Han dynasty; each with a representative object from each time period, ranging from a jade cong to a bronze incense burner.

Authors of this collection are the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Tags: art history; artifact; archaeologist; ritual; Chinese; asia; Asian; warring states period; terracotta army; terra cotta;


Freer and Sackler Galleries
7
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

Theatre Masks

Jean-Marie Galing
9
 

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
 

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 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 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 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 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 Tsimshian People and Their Culture

Coming soon!

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
2
 

The Tlingit People and Their Culture

Coming soon!

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
2
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