Alutiiq Museum names Jim and Bonnie Dillard as its volunteers of the year

The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak named its volunteer of the year on Feb. 14, celebrating two people in 2024 – Jim and Bonnie Dillard. Both the Dillards are long-time educators on the island.

The couple live in Kodiak and were commended, in part, for hand-crafting new traditional drums for an elementary school music class. According to a press release from the museum, the drums were crafted using traditional methods. 

The Dillards have long volunteered for the museum. Jim has travelled to villages to assist in mask-making classes and Bonnie has also partnered with the museum for art classes. (Alutiiq Museum)

Jim carved and bent several wood pieces to form the structure before it was lined with airplane fabric to cover the drum heads. Bonnie then decorated each drum.

April Laktonen Counceller, the museum’s executive director, thanked the couple for their efforts to keep traditional knowledge alive.

“Thanks to the Dillards, students exploring Alutiiq music now have appropriate instruments,” she wrote in the release. 

The drums the Dillards built are being used to teach at Main Elementary during the school year and will be returned to the museum during summers. 

The museum is currently under renovation and will reopen its building in May of next year.

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