Dmae Roberts presents a short feature story called “Sharing History,” from Coming Home: Return of the Alutiiq Masks, a one-hour radio documentary that interweaves oral history interviews, Alutiiq music and soundscapes.The full-length documentary originally aired in 208 on about 188 public radio stations around the country. This feature story aired on PRI’s The World. 

Hear the feature story:

Alutiiq Mask titled "Ashik" ("Protector" is on the left of page)
Alutiiq Mask titled “Ashik” (“Protector” is on the left of page)

The “Sharing History” feature story from the Coming Home: Return of the Alutiiq Masks documentary takes us to Kodiak, Alaska where Alutiiq peoples work to save their language, cultural traditions and heritage by unlocking the secrets of the masks collected by French explorer Alphonse Pinnart in 1872.

When Pinnart died in 1911, he bequeathed the masks to the Chateau Musee, a small museum off the coast of Northern France. The collection survived two World Wars and were “rediscovered” by Alutiiq artists who began making pilgrimages to France in 2000 to see the artifacts of their culture. This led to an unprecedented sharing of history between the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak and the Chateau Musee.

Dmae Roberts as part of a USA Fellowship residency produced this documentary in collaboration with Earthsongs/Koahnic Broadcasting in Anchorage.

Purchase a download of the digital download of the entire one-hour documentary by clicking here. 

136 years ago…

Alutiiq artist Helen Simeonoff w/masks discovered in France.
Alutiiq artist Helen Simeonoff with masks discovered in France.

Alutiiq masks were taken
From Kodiak, Alaska
And given to France
And for a short time they are…

“Where I go, you go, helper spirit.
You don’t know where I will come from,
The land or sea.

As I travel the universe, helper spirit,
Protect me…”

-From a song collected by Alphonse Pinart
in Eagle Harbor, March 1872

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Rasmuson Foundation
United States Artists
United States Artists – Alaska AIR
Alaska Humanities Forum

Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.

National Endowment for the Arts