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Friday, November 11, 2011

Alaskan Native Heritage Centre, Anchorage

What a fantastic place the Native Alaskan Heritage Center turned out to be. Unfortunately we got there with about an hour and quarter to go until they closed, wish we had more time. It was absolutely riveting. We whisked our way around the lake, stopping to hear from different tribes about their stories, daily life, how things were done. Red spruce is a repellant to mosquitos and other insects. Must remember that one. Better than deet any day, smells good too. Woman learned to hunt as well, just in case their men never returned. Boys learned to sew, also just in case their female relations disappeared.

They used spotted seal skins for regular clothing shirts and trousers. They were difficult to wash and dry, yet on the other hand very hard wearing. The warmest skins were caribou's winter pelt. Clothes made from these were given to pregnant women, the elderly and hunters since they kept them warmest. When the Russians arrived, the indians took a liking to their smock which was soft and easy to wash, modifying it with pockets for holding extra collections like berries and hoods to help with mosquitos.

Indian lodges would hold 50 to 100 people with small doors, only large enough for 1 person at a time to get through. Then raiders could only enter one at a time, easier to defend. They used a 3 to 5 inch plug as a door at night to stop raiders. Raiders were after the other tribes tools and foods that they didn't have. This happened even when they traded. I personally think it must have also provided a form of excitement and daring for young people. The door also resticted brown bears/grizzly's entering. Bears were very common then and children knew to check outside before stepping outside. They used volcanic rock vessels filled with seal oil or whale oil as lighting and also for heat and cooking. The wick was moss.

Men and woman used a walrus tipped staff with a walrus tusk set at a 45 degree angle from the main shaft. It was used to check the ice was strong enough to hold you for walking on. The walrus hook was especially useful for ice hopping, if a piece was too far away you could hook it and pull it closer, it was also useful if you fell in the water, you could reach up to solid ice and haul yourself out.
There were lots of native artisans with their wares out. Oh to have more time, why did I go to JC Pennys! Both my darlings after saying that they just wanted to go home instead of stop here, declared it was really worth while. For me it was the highlight of Anchorage.

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Hi there, feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions. Thanks, Desray

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