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Exhibit explores hunting and trapping in Interior Alaska

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: 907-479-0559


Photo caption below.
Courtesy of the Alaska Trappers Association
The museum special exhibit "Hunting and Trapping in Alaska's Interior: Our Stories, Our Lives" examines the traditions and lifestyles of Alaskans who choose to live off the land. The exhibit opens Saturday, May 17 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008.
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A new exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, "Hunting and Trapping in Alaska's Interior: Our Stories, Our Lives," gives visitors insight into Alaska lifestyles that have supported families for thousands of years and continue to be a part of our culture today. The exhibit opens Saturday, May 17 in the museum's special exhibit gallery and runs through Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008.

"Alaskans have deep connections to the land, and we're excited to have this exhibit to tell part of that story," says museum director Aldona Jonaitis. "I hope our visitors come away with an appreciation for the Alaskan spirit of independence and self-reliance as well as deeper understanding of the challenges facing hunters and trappers today."

In the exhibit, personal narratives tell stories of family tradition, cultural identity, independence, personal responsibility, sustenance and survival. The exhibit also shows how hunting and trapping lifestyles have evolved over time, responding to changes in land ownership, increased regulation, economic trends such as increasing fuel prices, and political and social pressures.

The exhibit features clothing, tools, archaeological artifacts and other material from the museum's collections, including 33 firearms from the history collection. Contemporary and historic photographs, objects on loan from the community and oral histories also help tell the story of hunting and trapping in Interior Alaska.

The six-month run for the exhibit is one of the longest in recent history for the museum's special exhibit program. The extended timeframe is designed to capture both the entire summer visitor season as well as a fall local audience, when the exhibit will particularly timely for annual hunting and trapping seasons. The museum is planning several fall programs to complement the exhibit: an information fair, lectures, family programs and a screening of the upcoming documentary film "Eating Alaska." The museum will also incorporate the exhibit into its fall school tour program.

"The complete story of hunting and trapping is too complex and dynamic to be contained in any space," says Jonaitis. "We hope the exhibit and related events will stimulate discussion beyond the museum."

Dixie Alexander, Caroline Brown, Carol Gelvin-Reymiller, Ben Potter, Joshua Reuther, Bill Schneider, Jim Simon and Glen Simpson served on the exhibit's community advisory team, working with staff to develop the themes and interpretation of the materials. In addition, consultations with hunters, trappers, biologists, anthropologists, oral historians and other Alaskans helped shape the exhibit.

"Hunting and Trapping in Alaska's Interior: Our Stories, Our Lives" was supported by the University of Alaska Statewide Office of Academic Affairs, with funding from BP and ConocoPhillips. The Alaska Outdoor Council; Alaska Trappers Association; Doyon, Limited; FurBearers, Unlimited; Dinah Larsen; Northern Alaska Environmental Center; Outdoor Heritage Foundation of Alaska; Safari Club International, Alaska and Kenai Chapters; Sportsman's Warehouse; The Usibelli Foundation and Wright Air Service also provided funding for the exhibit.

Admission to the special exhibit is included in the museum's general admission price: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for youth 7-17 and free for children 6 and under. Museum members and UAF students (with valid ID) also receive free admission. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in summer. Information on the museum's programs and exhibits is available at 907-474-7505 and online at www.uaf.edu/museum.