The Alutiiq Museum is one of six Alaska organizations set to receive a share of a $12.5 million grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. The funds will be split between six organizations that are part of a collaboration called the Community Organized Restoration and Learning – or CORaL – Network.
The network includes the Alaska SeaLife Center, which is leading the partnership, Alaska Sea Grant, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, the Chugach Regional Resources Commission, the Prince William Sound Science Center along with the Alutiiq Museum. The breakdown of how much funding each organization will receive has yet to be announced.
Molly O’Dell is the director of archaeology and special projects at the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak. She said the funding will support five years of outreach and educational programming.
“One of the main goals of the project is to do education and outreach related to resources that were affected by the spill in the spill-impacted region,” said O’Dell.
Alutiiq history on the Kodiak archipelago dates back to more than 7,000 years ago – and relics from Native villages and camps are found scattered across the island’s coastline. But O’Dell says many of those sites were damaged from the 1989 spill.
“Archaeological resources were impacted by the spill – both because some sites and artifacts were oiled and because there was a lot of looting during the cleanup,” said O’Dell.
O’Dell said properly handling archaeological resources became a part of training for volunteers later on in the clean-up effort.
The museum has been the beneficiary of past funding from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, which was established in 1991 to distribute the $900 million civil settlement from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and O’Dell said the latest grant through the CORaL network will help support the museum’s existing archaeology program – including its summer internships.
“We’re providing a training opportunity for interns to learn about archaeology, so they get to do field work and they get to see how the artifacts are cleaned and cataloged and stored in the museum,” said O’Dell.
The Alutiiq Museum also has plans to share research publications and print educational materials for community members about what to do if they stumble upon artifacts. O’Dell said the museum expects to receive its share of the funding sometime after July 1.