Return of Alutiiq treasures
Last July 9, the Alutiiq Museum celebrated a special homecoming: Two Kodiak Alutiiq masks collected by Alphonse Pinart in the nineteenth century were brought from Boulogne-sur-Mer back to their native land of Alaska. This event is one element of a partnership of cultural exchange between France and the United States. Two similar masks were sent from Kodiak to France on a five-year loan, another part of a refreshing story of intercultural recognition and sharing. The masks will be on display in both museums until April of 2023.
American Indian images, names, and stories infuse American history and contemporary life. The images are everywhere, from the Land O’Lakes butter maiden to the Cleveland Indians’ mascot and from classic Westerns and cartoons to episodes of Seinfeld and South Park. American Indian names are everywhere too, from state, city, and street names to the Tomahawk missile. And the familiar historical events of Pocahontas’s life, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of Little Bighorn remain popular reference points in everyday conversations. Pervasive, powerful, and at times demeaning, together these reveal how Indians have been embedded in unexpected ways in the history, pop culture, and identity of the United States and the rest of the world. "Americans" highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began. Objects range from a 1948 Indian Chief to commercial graphics and promotional items with Indian imagery, to Native American artifacts associated with the Battle of the Little Bighorn, an event that unexpectedly contributed to the “branding” of Indian imagery in Western consciousness. Americans is a thoughtful examination of identity, change, and cultural impact.