Alaska Native youth practice Native sports events in the Alaska Native Heritage event space.

Alaska Native Heritage Center Receives $49,808 Award from The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Anchorage, AK – The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) has been selected to receive a $49,808 grant through the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Native Institutions. This grant opportunity is intended to help Native Cultural Institutions to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and provide humanities programming to their communities. Funds were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed by the U.S. Congress.

ANHC will use the funds to support the Batuk’enelyashi: Natural Dyes from Dena’ina Lands project, developed in partnership with the Alaska office of the Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution. The project will provide audiences with resources and cultural heritage experiences that support the well-being of Alaska Natives.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Arctic Studies Center and Alaska Native artists to preserve and strengthen Alaska Native artistic traditions for future generations. Elder Rita Pitka Blumenstein created a wonderful model of experimentation that we are honored to build upon,” said ANHC Curator of Collections and Exhibits Angela Demma.

The Batuk’enelyashi project builds on the work of Yup’ik Elder and traditional healer Rita Pitka Blumenstein (1936-2021), specifically from her 1983 workshop on natural dyes in Anchorage, Alaska, when she taught grass-basket makers and co-authored the booklet Nuunam Qaralirkai/Earth Dyes. In honor of Rita and in recognition of the Alaska Native traditions of sharing knowledge and promoting intergenerational learning, the project will focus on research, documentation, and teaching how to harvest, process, and use natural dyes from the Southcentral Alaska, working in close collaboration with Elder artist and Culture Bearer, June Simeonoff Pardue (Sugpiaq and Iñupiaq), who was one of Rita’s students in the 1983 workshop. The project will include an outdoor educational program for a small group Alaska Native teaching artists and students in May and a demonstration for the public on May 20th at 3pm. Work on the project will be documented and converted into educational resources made available for free online and in print for wide access and distribution.

“COVID-19 hit Tribal communities particularly hard. The pandemic is not only responsible for the loss of culture keepers, Native language speakers, elders, and government leaders, but also the closure of cultural institutions, furloughed staff, and reduced programming,” said ATALM President Susan Feller. “This opportunity will provide much-needed financial support and create humanities-based programs that bring cultural practitioners and the public together in a dialogue that embraces the civic and cultural life of Native communities.”

Alaska Native Heritage Center was selected by an independent Peer Review Committee and is one out of 84 awardees to receive funding. Other awardees representing 25 states include Tribal governments and Native nonprofit organizations, as well as higher education institutions and non-native nonprofit organizations working in partnership with state or federally recognized tribal entities. A total of $3.26 million was granted. A list of grantees is available at www.atalm.org

“The National Endowment for the Humanities is grateful to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums for the association’s important work in administering American Rescue Plan funding to help Native American cultural institutions recover from the pandemic,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “These grants provide valuable humanities resources to tribal communities and represent a lifeline to the many Native heritage sites and cultural centers that are helping preserve and educate about Indigenous history, traditions, and languages.” 

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ABOUT ALASKA NATIVE HERITAGE CENTER

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization that preserves and strengthens the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska’s Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration, and education. For more information about other events and programs, visit www.alaskanative.net

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION OF TRIBAL ARCHIVES, LIBRARIES, AND MUSEUMS (ATALM)

The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) is an international association dedicated to preserving and advancing the language, history, culture, and lifeways of Indigenous peoples. Founded in 2010, ATALM maintains a network of support for Indigenous cultural programs, provides professional development training, enables collaboration among tribal and non-tribal cultural institutions, and advocates for programs and funding to sustain the cultural sovereignty of Native Nations. To learn more, visit www.atalm.org