Honouring Ancestry, Celebrating Presence: the Grand Opening of the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center

Charlotta Hillerdal* (Corresponding Author), Anna Mossolova, Rick Knecht, Warren Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

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Since the initiation of the community based Nunalleq Archaeological Project in 2009 near the Yup’ik village of Quinhagak, in southwest Alaska, more than 100,000 artefacts have been recovered from the eroding coastline of the Bering Sea. This has provided an unprecedented view into Yup’ik life before contact and has also led to a revival of traditional cultural practices in the community. The collection is now permanently deposited in Quinhagak under the curation of the descendant community, and on display in the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center. In this paper we describe the events surrounding the public opening of the Center in 2018 and discuss principles of community collaboration and practice that strengthen partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborations and how they can be sustained long term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-199
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Community Archaeology & Heritage
Issue number3-4
Early online date5 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Firstly, we want to acknowledge the contribution by Stephan Jones, first Director of the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center and Director of QHI, who is sadly no longer with us. Stephan was one of the organisers behind the cultural workshops and celebration, and had fate wanted differently, his name would be found among the authors of this paper. Thank you to Crystal Carter and Carl Nicholai for reporting on the culture workshops, and for the kind permission to use your beautiful pictures. We are grateful to all the artists who made the workshops possible, and to all the workshop participants who made them so successful and enjoyable. We also extend our thanks to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on our paper. Thanks to everyone in Quinhagak who contributed to the Potluck and celebration, and special thanks to the Quinhagak dancers for your performance. We cannot leave without mentioning all the researchers and volunteers who have dedicated their time to Nunalleq over the years. Finally, we are extremely grateful to the people of Quinhagak for their constant support—without you none of this could have happened.

The stakeholder workshop was founded by AHRC workshop grant AH/R01423/1. The culture workshops were arranged with the support of grants from The CIRI Foundation and Alaska State Council on the Arts.


  • Yup’ik
  • Alaska Native
  • Community Archaeology
  • Indigenous Archaeology
  • Indigenous Museum Curation
  • Collaborative Practices


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