Obsidian pebbles from the Wiki Peak source in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. NPS photo by Jeff Rasic.

Archaeology Month

April is Archaeology Month in Alaska, a time to reflect on Alaska’s rich and exceptionally long-lived cultural traditions that we understand, in part, through archaeological research. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness about preservation of the archaeological record, a non-renewable resource relentlessly subjected to a range of threats.

Learn more about Alaska’s past at a series of events–public talks, exhibits, hands-on activities–happening across the state. And watch for the latest installment of the Alaska Archaeology Month poster coming to to schools schools, libraries, and museums throughout Alaska.

This year’s theme for the Archaeology Month poster is the Paleoarctic Tradition, an archaeological culture dating from approximately 7,000 to 14,000 years ago. These were the first settlers of Alaska, who made a living hunting, trapping and fishing a smorgasbord of resources that included now-extinct species such as bison, wapiti (elk), and horse, along with extant species that include caribou, Dall’s sheep, waterfowl, small game, and fish. Recent archaeological finds show that Paleoarctic people had begun to exploit salmon, which in later millennia would become a major staple of Alaskan subsistence economies.

Events

Public Lecture: Archaeological Research in the Islands of Four Mountains

April 1 – Museum of the Aleutians – Unalaska

Archaeological investigations of village sites in the Islands of Four Mountains documented 4000 years of hunting, gathering, and fishing. Occupation of these islands ended with Russian contact and the Aleut Revolt. Virginia Hatfield and Kale Bruner will discuss research from excavations conducted in 2014 and 2015. 7 pm.

Exhibit: Archaeological Collections from Alaska National Parks

April, all month – Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center – Anchorage

Crampons, carvings, creepers and cameras are among the things that form an eclectic collection of museum objects from every Alaskan national park. Brought together in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, the exhibit is on display at the Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center through April. 605 W 4th Ave. Glimpse these treasures in a web exhibit.

Public Lecture: New Views of Viking Greenland—Resilient, Adaptive, but Still Extinct

April 5 – Alaska Quaternary Center – Fairbanks

New archaeological finds paint a picture of how Vikings lived and why they became, as archaeologist Thomas McGovern says, “extinct.” McGovern, an archaeologist at Hunter College of the City University of New York, will share insights from his decades of research piecing together the history of the Norse settlements in Greenland. Wednesday, April 5, 7 pm. West Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3800 Geist Road, Fairbanks. More info.

Public Lecture: Walakpa: How Salvaged Archaeological Remains Can Benefit Our Community

April 25 – Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC) Science  – Utqiagvik

Dr. Anne Jensen and Kaare Siikuaq Erickson will describe the Walakpa Archaeology Salvage Project (WASP), work focused on a large and important archaeological site near Utqiagvik that is eroding into the Chukchi Sea. A hands on activity will show how toggle head harpoons work, how this technology has impacted human distribution in the Arctic, and how toggle head harpoon technology continues to be vital to Inupiat culture. 7pm, Tuzzy Library, Utqiagvik (Barrow) Alaska.

Public Lecture: The Alaskan Paleoarctic Tradition and the People of Beringia

April 25 – Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center – Anchorage

Learn about life in Alaska at the end of the last Ice Age when bison, elk and horse roamed the landscape and where deepest roots of Alaska’s history and culture begin. Dr. Andrew Tremayne, Regional Archaeologist for the National Park Service, will share his research experiences and summarize the latest findings. Noon. Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center, 605 W 4th Ave. More info.

Film Screening: Igliqtiqsiugvigruak [Swift Water Place]

April 26 – National Park Service, Northwest Arctic Heritage Center – Kotzebue

Two hundred years ago on the Kobuk River the place called Igliqtiqsiugvigruak had dozens of massive houses connected with a web of tunnels, housed some 200 people, and functioned as a regional capital. Learn about this fascinating chapter of Inupiat history through the voices and images of the people of Kiana and archaeological research by Dr. Douglas Anderson. 7 pm. Information: 907-442-8321.

Open House: Artifacts from Tulaagiaq

April 28 – Utuqqanaat Inaat & National Park Service – Kotzebue

Peruse an amazing collection of more than 100 beautifully made antler arrowheads from the 1200 year old Tulaagiaq site north of Kotzebue. The artifacts will be unveiled as part of a new exhibit housed at the Utuqqanaat Inaat (place for elders) at the Maniilaq Health Center, 2 pm. Information: Hannah Atkinson at 907-442-8342.

18th Annual Alaska Atlatl Fun and Throw

April 29 – Alaska Native Heritage Center – Anchorage

Come to this free event and try taking down a mammoth, rhino or bison with a spear thrower! Alaska Native Heritage Center, from Noon to 5 pm, for ages 8 and up. Information: Richard VanderHoek at 907-269-8728.

Craft Saturday—Incised Pebbles

April 29 – Alutiiq Museum – Kodiak

Prehistoric artifacts from Kodiak Island include pebbles with drawings of people wearing parkas and jewelry. Learn about these ancient drawings and make your own incised pebble. Noon to 4 pm. All ages welcome. $5 suggested donation. More information here, or contact Dana Haynes, 844-425-8844, dana@alutiiqmuseum.org.