Earlier this year, the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository embarked on a project to chronicle traditional Alutiiq stories and legends. That effort has finally borne fruit with the release of Unigkuat– Kodiak Alutiiq Legends on Thursday, according to the museum’s language and culture manager Dehrich Chya.
“It’s hard to say when exactly the idea came about, because it’s something that I know that I’ve wanted to see it and many people here in the museum and in our community have wanted to see. And it’s just something that we finally had an opportunity to apply for a project,” Chya said.
Using a grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, work on the storybook began in February. The storybook tells 62 stories in 279 pages, complete with illustrations from 31 local artists.
“Not every story has an illustration in it. But we do have throughout the book illustrations for some of the different stories in there. And these stories can, they’re about so many different things, and we have them separated by topics. So that would be separated into stories about the natural world, creation tales, stories about animals, and stories about transformation and shaman tales,“ Chya said.
A digital edition will soon be freely available on the Alutiiq Museum’s website. And hard copies will be sold in the gift shop. Chya says the museum is working on a monthly podcast with Kodiak Island residents telling the stories from the book.