An Alaska Native Cultural Heritage and Artistic Sovereignty in Museums Project funded through A Journey to What Matters

Alġaaniqsaq and time with my Ancestors things

Story & Photo by Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich


As a visual artist and a current graduate student entering my second year, the time that I commit to research is vital. As I prepare to make new work and craft a thesis, I am so very grateful for this gift of getting to spend some of that research time with my Ancestor’s things in the University of Alaska Museum of the North’s collections because of Museums Alaska’s Access to Alaska Native Collections grant. I was gifted not only with this vital time in museum collections but also given the resources to care for myself as I conducted this research. This included taking time to ground myself by visiting the Chena river and taking time walking the Troth Yeddha’ campus. Other components of this care meant not forcing the research but letting the details and visual information arrive to me in their own time as I visited with the collections over the course of a week.

Because of the generosity of the staff at the UA Museum of the North I was given access to not only the Ethnology and History collections but also the Mammals, Ornithology, and Archeology collections as well. This has situated my time and research there not only in one faucet of the tangible visual information available there but in many that my ancestors also studied and researched deeply. As Alaska’s research museum, the UA Museum of the North holds so much information for us to visit and gather a deeper understanding with, and with my time there I could see that things were held with care. Quyanaqpuk – Ana baasee’ to the UA Museum of the North, Museums Alaska and The CIRI Foundation for this gift of time with my Ancestor’s things.

Read more about TCF’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture 

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