Kodiak’s Alutiiq museum publishes book of traditional stories

Sadie Coyle sings with the Kodiak Alutiiq dancers during a processional and grand entrance on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, near Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Earlier this year, the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak 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,” Chya said. “And it’s just something that we finally had an opportunity to apply for a project.”

The cover of “Unigkuat—Kodiak Alutiiq Legends,” a book released by the Alutiiq Museum.

Using a grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, work on the storybook began in February. It 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.” Chya said.

Chya said those stories are separated by topics — stories about the natural world, creation tales, animals, transformation and shaman tales.

A digital edition will soon be 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.

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