Our Way of Living
Archaeology provides another way of knowing the past. By working with archaeologists and supporting scientific excavations, Alutiiq communities seek knowledge as well as control over how this heritage is treated.
More than 3,000 archaeological sites dot the Alutiiq homeland. The remains of ancient coastal villages and camps hold stone tools and artifacts of shell, bone, antler, wood, and walrus ivory. Traces of houses, tents, hearths, and storage pits are preserved in the ground.
The oldest sites are almost 10,000 years old, left by Native Americans whose ancestors came from Siberia. The southern Alaskan coast offered these first settlers a rich supply of fish, plants, and animals for food. Over time, they invented new types of tools, boats, and clothing and became expert at harvesting the resources of the sea. Buried layers of animal bones and seashells at ancient villages provide evidence of the foods they ate.
By 4,500 years ago, people began building houses with thick walls of earth. They wore new styles of jewelry, such as labrets and nose rings. Artists of the late Kachemak period (900 - 3,500 years ago) carved animals, spirits, and human faces in bone and ivory.
Many changes took place in the last centuries before Russian conquest in 1784. People began to work and live in larger family groups, as shown by the remains of houses with room for 15 or more residents. War with other villages became an important fact of life. Fighters used bows and arrows and wore armor made of wooden slats. Villages were built on high rocks to serve as places of retreat during raids.
WOODEN LABRETS | TOYS | SPOON | SPIRIT CARVING | OIL LAMP | MINIATURE MASK | MICROBLADES | LIP ORNAMENTS | LAMP | JEWELRY | IVORY PIN | IVORY CARVING | HUNTING TOOLS | HARPOONS | FISH HOOKS | BONE CARVING | BENTWOOD BOX | BEADS | ARROW AND ARMOR |