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Alutiiq Museum publishes new book

Posted: February 11, 2013 - 1:00am

KODIAK — The Alutiiq Museum is expanding its campaign to promote the Alutiiq language with a new book detailing how to write in Alutiiq.

“The Alutiiq Orthography: Kodiak Dialect” was written by museum language program manager April Laktonen Counceller and linguist Jeff Leer.

The book is a 100-page paperback that contains the rules for Alutiiq writing.

“This is based on a project the museum is supporting with Chugachmiut Inc.,” Haakanson said.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, along with Kodiak College, the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation, Alutiiq Language Club, the Alaska Native Language Center and the Alaska Native Language Archive at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The project took several years to prepare and covers everything from the Alutiiq alphabet to understanding symbols and the breakdown of syllables.

“(April) sat down and worked with elders to work all this out and the spelling pronunciation,” Haakanson said. “That’s one way we can keep our language alive.”

It includes photos of Alutiiq elders and language events, as well as a glossary and a map.

The orthography is meant to simplify teaching the Alutiiq language, make it easy to type, and make it consistent. It is aligned with the Alutiiq writing system used in Prince William Sound.

The Alutiiq Museum is also working on an ongoing project with the University of Alaska Press. The museum is photographing around 35,000 pieces from the Karluk One archaeological site to document the history and excavation of the site.

The photographs and documentation will be put into a catalogue that Haakanson hopes will be ready in 2014.

Haakanson said the reason the museum is putting out books and catalogues is because it allows the public to view and access the items that are not always on display.

“Let’s get the information into the hands of the community where it belongs,” he said. “It will have lots of impacts for the community.”

Copies of the orthography are now available for free from the Alutiiq Museum. People interested in picking up a copy can stop by the museum, or contact museum store manager Marya Halvorsen at 486-7004. Electronic copies are available by request.

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