Museum of the Aleutians
The Museum of the Aleutians is located in Alaska and holds many collections from the Unangan people, photography taken in the 19th and 20th centuries, different animals, World War II artifacts, and fine arts. This museum shares the rich history of the Aleutian area. The Aleutian area was a part of World War II. The Battle of the Aleutian Islands took place from June 1942 to August 1943. During the war, the US tried to fight off and remove Japan from this territory. Japan claimed the islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian are and this was the only US soil Japan would ever claim during the war in the Pacific. Many battles occurred in order for American to gain back the islands. During the Battle of Attu, American ships and planes bombed Attu and Kiska for several weeks to weaken the Japanese. Once America gained back these two islands, it helped them prepare for the long battles. Japan officially surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. The native people of the Aleutian islands were originally known as Unangan. However, Russian fur traders who arrived in the region around the 18th century came and renamed them the Aleuts.
Backstory and Context
Unalaska is the largest city in the Aleutian Islands. The Aleut, or Unangas (Russian: Унаӈан), people have lived on Unalaska Island for about 9,000 years. They named it "Ounalashka," meaning "near the peninsula." Russian fur traders first arrived in 1759. For almost 200 years, the population mostly consisted of Aleutians, Russians, and their descendants. Starting in World War II, there was an influx of people from the Lower 48.
Since 1999, the Museum of the Aleutians has acted as a cultural history institution for the Aleutian Islands and the community of Unalaska. It was renovated in 2013. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and research the cultural history and prehistory of the Aleutian Islands region. Through actively growing Unangan, Russian-American, World War II, and local art collections, the museum provides many permanent and changing exhibits, as well as a home to researchers, visitors, and community members. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children under 12. Admission is $2 for active military. Admission is free for children under 3, veterans, and for local students with a valid student ID.
The museum galleries include dioramas, video displays, and other interactive elements. The exhibits cover the early history of the Aleutian peoples, Russian colonization, World War II and the present day. The designer of the one of the exhibits, Alan Ransenberg said this after the renovations: “The story is the story of the Unangan or the Aleuts — about how they lived prior to contact with Russia, with the Russians, and they lived in a very expansive place, lots of horizon because of the water, and then they slowly got constricted. But in the end, it opens up into the collection room, that has a lot to do with that the Aleuts are still here, even after all of this."
Museum of the Aleutians, Accessed July 27th 2020. https://www.aleutians.org/.
Ropeik, Annie. At Reopened Museum of the Aleutians, A Focus On Storytelling, Alaska Public Media. December 17th 2013. Accessed July 27th 2020. http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/12/17/at-reopened-museum-of-the-aleutians-a-focus-on-storytelling/.
Battle of the Aleutian Islands, History.com. Accessed July 27th 2020. http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/battle-of-the-aleutian-islands.
History of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Accessed July 27th 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20090930132651/http://www.unalaska.info/history.htm/.