Cultural Heritage Department Programs

Unangam Tunuu Revitalization Project

A region-wide grassroots project that supports future speakers and teachers of Unangam Tunuu (the Aleut Language). With a passion to keep our language alive, the Unangam Tunuu Advisory Committee, a Regional Core Team (made up of a few brave volunteer language activists), APIA’s Cultural Heritage Director and Evan Gardner (language teacher maker) have joined forces. To be successful we believe this ambitious project will take the entire Unangax̂ community.

The Aleut Corporation has provided funds to get this project started. During this three-year project, language workshops will be held two times each year in Unalaska, Atka, St. Paul and King Cove. The first round of workshops occurred in September and October of 2013. Proposals are being prepared to seek additional funding to expand and sustain this project.

Evan Gardner, the developer of “Where Are Your Keys?”, (www.whereareyourkeys.org) is providing his assistance by facilitating language workshops throughout the region. Evan is also sharing his techniques and strategies for learning language with the Regional Core Team.

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Urban Unangax̂ Culture Camp

A one-of-a-kind summer program for community members of all ages and backgrounds to learn and share traditional knowledge; where camaraderie, high-energy and lots of fun takes place while building bentwood visors, kayaks, and drums, learning language, history, and dance, basket weaving and genealogy, sewing head-dresses, regalia and skin, and preparing and tasting traditional foods.

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Aleut Heritage Library and Archive

The library is a continually growing collection of literature, articles, photographs, audio and video, maps, journals, and archival materials relating to Unangax̂ history, culture, and the environment of the region. A unique component to our collection, and little known part of our country’s history, is the WWII Aleut Evacuation and Repatriation documentation. As late as the early 1970′s, information about WWII in the Aleutians was considered “classified” by the US Government. Our collection also contains Father Paul Merculief’s personal studies collection, Lydia Black’s collection of Aleut research material and an Amchitka collection. Although we are a non-lending library, we are open to the public and welcome those interested in our collection.

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Mission Statement

The purpose of the Cultural Heritage Department is to preserve Unangax̂ (Aleut) heritage and to provide programs that encourage Unangax ̂culture to flourish. Knowledge of Unangax̂ culture is critical to the identity and survival of the Unangan (Eastern Dialect̂) and Unangas (Atka dialect) as a unique group of Alaska Natives.

The Unangax̂ people have a cultural history in the region that extends at least 8,000 years into the past; the Cultural Heritage Department is dedicated to preserving that past for the future good of the Unangax̂ people.

Our goal is to preserve information, objects and places relevant to Unangax̂ culture, which includes but is not limited to, Unangax̂ languages, traditional knowledge and values, cultural practices, art, history, archaeological and historical sites, and cultural objects.

Our audience is primarily the Unangan/Unangas, however, we also seek to educate the general public about our history and culture. The scope of our work includes preservation programs to record information pertinent to Unangax̂ cultural heritage, and education programs to teach Unangax̂ cultural practices and values to new generations and to inform all people about Unangax̂ life and culture, both past and present.