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New internship seeks to get Native students involved in museums, preservation work

Posted: June 20, 2011 - 9:55pm

Sealaska Heritage Institute has just joined with the University of Alaska Southeast in an internship program to encourage more Native archivists and museum curators.

SHI archivist said that more Natives are needed in these fields that are devoted to the preservation of their cultures.

“This field certainly needs diversity. Especially with museum materials, it’s important to have Natives working in their museums,” said Sealaska Heritage Institute archivist Zachary Jones.

Jones said having Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian students there makes a real difference because they are more in-tune with understanding their cultural materials in a sensitive way.

“They bring special perspectives relative to their own culture,” he said.

The importance of Natives working with their own archives really rubbed off on SHI’s first Tlingit participating in the program, Alyssa Peterson. She became more interested in anthropology and North Coast art in college and has received a scholarship to pursue library science at San José State University.

“When I started interning at SHI, I realized that I could combine my interests with a career in archives. It was a bit of a revelation,” Peterson said in a release. “I can do what I love and still work toward cultural preservation. SHI has definitely shown me that.”

Of the interns, three are at SHI, two at the state archives, one more with the state library and another at the state museum.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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