Cultural Heritage Department Programs

Unangax̂ Heritage Library & Archive

The library is a continually growing collection of books, articles, audio and video recordings, photographs, maps, journals, and archival materials relating to Unangax̂  history, culture, and the environment of the region. Two unique components to our collection is the WWII Aleut evacuation and repatriation documentation and Lydia T. Black’s archive and research material.  Although it is a non-lending library, we are open to the public and welcome those interested in our collection to stop by. Currently, we are conducting an inventory, cataloguing and organizing our material to make it more accessible.  Our library operations are made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS grant number NG-05-17-0126-17].

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Culture Camp

The Urban Unangax̂ Culture Camp is held annually at Unangam Ulaa (Home of the Aleuts), APIA’s Anchorage central headquarters. The free summer camp provides cultural educational opportunities for tribal members of all ages where they learn Aleut art, history and traditional skills. Classes include bentwood visor construction, full-size and model kayak building, drum building, traditional dance, basket weaving, beaded headdress and regalia sewing, carving, skin and gut sewing, traditional foods, genealogy.  

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Unangam Tunuu Preservation

Through a region-wide project supported by the Administration for Native Americans (grant no. 90NL0609) and a generous donation from the Aleut Corporation, workshops and regular gatherings help tribal and community members learn methods for learning Unangam tunuu from fluent speakers and skills to teach to others in their communities.

The project goal, developed by the Unangam Tunuu Advisory Committee, is to create a vibrant, integrated Unangam Tunuu Regional Learning Community that will support the growth of language learning in our communities, provide learning opportunities for learners at all levels, expand the number of fluent speakers and be the foundation for the survival of our language into the future.

This is being accomplished through two project objectives. Objective One focuses on building individual language fluency for project participants necessary to grow and expand a regional team of speakers capable of being teachers who also serve as language cluster leaders in their home communities.  Objective Two focuses on the creation of curriculum for both the Eastern and Western Dialects that will be available to assist teachers to expand the techniques for learning and teaching Unangam tunuu to all tribal communities.

Unangam Tunuu is an endangered language with fewer than 90 speakers remaining. APIA’s Cultural Heritage programs worked with tribes to compile a list of fluent speakers and maintains that list to track the number of speakers.  APIA’s Cultural Heritage Department is also dedicated to helping revitalize and preserve the language through other activities such as:

  • Digitization of audio recordings
  • Translation, transcription, and transliteration of recorded and written material
  • Create recordings for use in language projects and material
  • Facilitate and support Unangam Tunuu lessons and classes
  • Develop Unangam Tunuu learning material

Other Programs and Services

  • Historic preservation
  • Repatriation: facilitate return of human remains and cultural items on behalf of our tribal communities and maintain data and information for museum holding Aleut human remains and cultural items in their facilities
  • Oral history documentation
  • Publication of literature and other materials pertaining to Unanga{ art, culture, and history
  • Coordinate APIA’s annual Gala auction in support of cultural programs