About Project

This online catalog presents the entire collection of objects from the traditional culture of the Pacific Eskimos contained in the holdings of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The Pacific Eskimos are the indigenous inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island and nearby islands, and the shore of Prince William Sound. The groups of the Pacific Eskimos differ in their dialects and certain specific features of material culture. The Eskimos of the eastern shores of the Alaska Peninsula are known as the Katmais, those on Kodiak Island are known as the Kodiak Alutiit, and those on the shores of Prince William Sound as the Chugach. Nowadays, the ethnonym “Alutiit” is often used to refer the population of Kodiak, while “Sugpiaq” refers to the Chugach.

Until 1867, Alaska and a small area in northern California were a part of Russia and known as Russian America, which was later sold to the USA. For over two centuries, the Kunstkamera (named the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography since 1879) received new collections on the peoples of Russian America. The Museum currently stores over 450 items from the traditional culture of the Alutiit Pacific Eskimos. These items were gathered by participants of Russian round-the-world expeditions, employees of the Russian-American Company, and other researchers at a time when the Eskimos’ traditional culture had not yet experienced drastic changes under European influence.

The Museum began working on this catalog in 2007. The project was implemented in cooperation with the Alutiit Museum in the city of Kodiak (Alaska, USA), Koniag, Inc. (Alaska, USA), the Chugach Alaska Corporation (Alaska, USA), and with the support of the Consulate General of the USA in St. Petersburg. The result of this work was the 2010 publication of a complete academic catalog (in Russian) of collections related to Eskimo culture at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography: «Эскимосы Алютиик: каталог коллекций Кунсткамеры», СПб, «Наука». 2010 г. (http://www.kunstkamera.ru/books/978-5-02-025594-4/).

In 2012, the University of Alaska Press (Fairbanks, Alaska, USA) prepared and published the English-language catalog “The Alutiit/Sugpiat: A Catalog of the Collections of the Kunstkamera” (Fairbanks, University of Alaska Press, 2012).

This online catalog has been completed with the support and cooperation of the Consulate General of the USA in St. Petersburg. The Museum expresses its special gratitude to the Consulate General of the USA in St. Petersburg for support of this project at all stages of its implementation.

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Peter's the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) Russian Academy of Sciences

Candidate of History Yulia A. Kupina - project head; Candidate of Historical Sciences Sergei A. Korsun - commentations, description.

Credits:

Alutiiq Museum and Archeological Repository (Alaska, USA)

Koniag Corporation (Alaska, USA)

Chugach Alaska Corporation (Alaska, USA)

Сonsulate General of the USA in St.Peterburg

The National Park Service Shared Beringian Heritage Program

The Rasmuson Foundation

Cook Inlet Region, Inc.

The Bristol Bay Native Corporation

Perry Eaton