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KNBA News - Three Native corporations unite to speak up on Arctic development

KNBA Morning Newscast for Tuesday July 7, 2015

Three Alaska Native regional for-profit corporations form an alliance

By Jenn Ruckel, KNOM

Three coastal Native corporations have joined together to form the Inuit Arctic Business Alliance. Bering Straits Native Corporation, NANA Regional, and Arctic Slope Regional announced the partnership last week.

Tara Sweeney with Arctic Slope Regional said the hope is to build a strong foundation for future shareholders.

“When you have a barrage of outside interests looking to gain a foothold in the Alaskan Arctic,” said Sweeney, “several questions arise in those situations, and one is: How do we ensure that those interests wanting to come into our area of the world are going to be good Arctic stewards?”

Development carries some risks and concerns have been raised about potential threats to subsistence culture and food security. Matt Ganley, with Bering Straits Native Corporation, said the three corporations have very different backgrounds but recognize that development anywhere in the north impacts the entire Arctic.

He said each corporation has a lot to gain from developing its own backyard but all see greater benefit in working together.

“Rather than compete—which is what business do, and what regional corporations are, are businesses—I think the feeling was that together they could actually be more productive and have these infrastructure improvements begun where they’re needed,” said Ganley.

The alliance will focus specifically on improvements in telecommunications, transportation, and revenue sharing in their first year. The alliance leadership board is made up of three representatives from each corporation.

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Kodiak’s Alutiiq tribal museum adds state designation to national recognition

By Kayla Desroches, KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum in the city of Kodiak preserves and exhibits many Alaska Native artifacts from the Kodiak Archipelago region and other areas, and now the State of Alaska’s Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums has designated it as the state’s first natural and cultural history repository.

MarnieLeist is the Curator of Collections at the Alutiiq Museum and said the recognition is especially significant because they’re the second nationally accredited tribal museum in the United States.

They play a part in keeping and protecting Native history.

“Almost 80 percent of our collections are on loan to the museum,” said Leist. “It is our responsibility to help care for other tribal organizations, federal state agencies, to care for the collections in perpetuity. And, because we have a dedicated, professional staff, maybe a 1000 years from now those 7000 year old artifacts are still around for future generations.”

She said that takes physical upkeep of the objects.

“I try to put things in micro climates if they’re sensitive to help preserve them. Large objects, we do dust them and we actually just had a great workshop with the conservators from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology from Boston come and teach us more about how to vacuum objects, like kayak frames and other types of skin objects,” said Leist.

Part of maintaining artifacts is making sure they can survive in their environment. Here’s a very Alaskan example.

“Right now, we’re doing a paper test, so in our long, sunny, bright summer days we have lots of light. Well, UV damages objects, so I created this little test really quickly and here in another couple of weeks, we’ll see how much the paper bleached out in just those few weeks,” said Leist.

Scott Carrlee is the Curator of Museum Services at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and said granting the Alutiiq museum repository status was easy. He said that’s because it’s one of the seven institutions in the state accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

“That means that they’ve been through a review process. A very rigorous review process,” said Carrlee. “What we are concerned about is this designation is really strictly the collection’s care, collection’s management portion of what the museum does, so the fact that the Alutiiq Museum is already accredited, that gave the committee a comfort level with designating them as a repository.”

Amy Steffian is the director of research and publication for the Alutiiq Museum and refers back to the year she first joined the staff.

“I’ve been with the museum since it opened in 1995 and I’ve seen the repository grow from a young organization learning professional practices, and to see us achieve both national and now state recognition for our practices is really lovely,” said Steffian.

The Alutiiq Museum’s collection holdings range from bone and ivory objects to photographs and historical documents.

The Museum will hold its annual Community Archaeology dig from July 13 to 31 where volunteers from around Kodiak can work on an archaeology site to build that collection.