Alutiiq Basket Weavers Share Insight with Russian Curators. Plus, a Frontier Scientists App!

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists

Fairbanks, Alaska, April 24, 2012 – “The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (MAE) and the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg Russia have the earliest collections of Kodiak baskets, grass and spruce root, in the world,” said Sven Haakanson, executive director of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository.

In 2010, Haakanson traveled with six Native weavers to St. Petersburg to study the well preserved baskets, collected by Russian explorers in the 1800’s.   In turn, “the Alutiiq weavers shared with Russian museum curators what the baskets were made of, how they were made and to weave in more stories about what the baskets mean–more than just an ethnographic piece,” said Haakanson. The Frontier Scientist videos feature the weavers telling their stories in seven videos. [Frontier Scientists]

The videos showcasing the historic, economic and cultural value of basket weaving are the newest edition to the Frontier Scientists web site. Collecting and Curing Grass explains the price of a blade of grass from the perspective of the basket weaver. Katie Oliver, director of the Kodiak Historical Society’s Baranov Museum, and Sara Squartsoff, former education coordinator for the Alutiiq Museum, describe a brief history of Kodiak basket weaving and community participation in the video titled Teaching and Learning the Art of Basket Weaving [Alutiiq Weavers].

A new app created at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) makes the Frontier Scientists (FS) web site  available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod.  The free, universal app named for the website it highlights is the second app designed by UAF, but the first to make research available to the general public. “By downloading the videos onto your iOS device through the app, it gives you the freedom to watch them at your leisure, anytime, anywhere, and even without an active Internet connection,” said Bob Torgerson, UAF graduate student and one of the developers of the app. The best features of the app are 1) ability to download videos to iPhones, iPads and iPods 2) easy access to ask scientists questions 3) the possibility to locate Frontier Scientists projects on a map. [FS App Link Via iTunes] Check it out, it’s very cool!

educator Andrew Clark
Andrew Clark, App developer


Andrew Clark: After ten years teaching English and traveling in Asia, Andrew Clark moved to Alaska to study computer science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His interests include iOS programming and cybersecurity.


Since the April 2011 web launch, Frontier Scientists continues to share first person accounts and real time insights from leading archaeologists, grizzly bear biologists, volcano researchers, climate change specialists and other scientists.

Fascinating video of current scientific discoveries in some of the Arctic’s most remote and dramatic landscapes are chronicled in short videos, Twitter feeds, blogs and web reports.  The research covers these categories:

  • Grizzlies
  • Petroglyphs
  • Paleo-Eskimo
  • Cook Inlet Volcanoes
  • Computational Science
  • Alutiiq Weavers
  • Climate Change Watch
  • Arctic Winter Cruise 2011
  • Raven Bluff
  • Computational Science

“We want to let travelers, teachers, students, aspiring scientists, and anyone else interested in science feel as if they are with scientists as they track grizzlies or take the temperature of permafrost in a borehole,” explained Liz O’Connell, video director for Frontier Scientists.  Visitors to Frontier Scientists can ask questions to our scientists directly; follow some of them on Twitter and Facebook, and converse with scientists on their blogs.

Frontier Scientists is funded by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the National Park Service and 360 Degrees North. Follow us!

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