Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
For over one hundred years the traditional open boats, called Angyaaq, from Kodiak, Alaska and the surrounding regions disappeared from living knowledge and use. Models of the Angyaaq held in museums across the world were critical in retaining knowledge of this technology and preserving actual Angyaaq to enable this vessel's survival. Angyaaq are traditional Alutiiq open boats that were used to transport large groups of people and goods. Historically they were covered by a material made from over nine processed and prepared Sea Lion skins that were sewn together using a waterproof stitch.
In my paper, I will discuss the repatriation of Indigenous knowledge from the museum, drawing from my perspective as an Indigenous archaeologist, and my experience with the Angyaaq project. Through conducting painstaking research with the models held in museum collections to reverse engineer the stitching and the frame of the Angyaaq, and through close collaboration with the community of Akhiok, our group of Alutiiq boatbuilders made 13 new models in 2014 and then a full-sized Angyaaq in 2016. This was the first time since the 1860s that an Angyaaq was made and used directly by Natives from Kodiak. As contemporary Alutiiq peoples and Indigenous scholars, we are not waiting for outsiders to give us our traditional knowledge back. Instead, we are reclaiming and applying this knowledge within our communities so the next generation knows how ingenious their ancestors were and how intelligent Alutiiq people have always been in devising strategies for thriving in their Native regions.