Alutiiq Museum to Catalog Artifacts

Patrick Saltonstall holds Alutiiq knife. (Photo courtesy of Alutiiq Museum & Archeological Repository)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum is at the beginning of a project to record and describe all of its roughly 300 kinds of artifacts.

The museum just received an almost $50,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services via Koniag, which owns many of the items in its collections.

Curator of Archaeology Patrick Saltonstall says the information will include tool types, what people used the artifacts for, and what they may have been crafted from.

“It’s sort of our legacy I guess. Right now it’s in my head, but this grant will allow us to put it on paper.”

Saltonstall says that should also help archeologists identify patterns in the island’s archeological sites.

“And you can say, oh this site has so many U-shaped abraders, this site has so many bayonets, and you can get sorta get at what people are doing at these sites, you can sort of see how sites vary, and in order to do that type of statistical analysis, you have to have a standardized catalog between the sites. Everybody has to be calling the same things the same things.”

Saltonstall says compiling the inventory will be time-consuming, but worthwhile.

“It’s not a really pretty project, but it is a really vital project, and it’s something that will be very useful in the future, and that’s its value I think.”

According to an Alutiiq Museum press release, the grant will cover the project over two years. During that time, staff will also put together a resource for future identification of raw material like stone, bone, and shell. It’ll include what those materials look like and how they might have been used.

As stated in the press release, the museum will share the artifact inventory manual with other professionals that handle Alutiiq objects, like regional archeologists.

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