Day Five: Art, Wooly mammoths and earthquakes

Wednesday morning, I met with someone at ANCSA CEOs Corporation and someone with the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. The meeting took place in the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation building pictured below. They had tight security, which required me to show a photo id, sign in and receive a visitor’s badge. My contact then had to take me up to her office due to the security. Her office was on the 6th floor and had an awesome view of the Chugach Mountains. photo-1We spent some time at the Alaska Native Medical Center, which sounds like a very odd place to go, but the gift shop and hospital have some of the best native art in the city! The gift shop holds pieces on consignment for many artists, and on every floor was a large exhibit of pieces that had been donated to the hospital throughout its history.

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Puffin mask
Large transformation figure in center is by Levi Tetpon, an Inupiat relative
Large transformation figure in center is by Levi Tetpon, an Inupiat relative
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Doll exhibit at the Alaska Native Medical Center

We then made our way downtown and ate lunch at the Hotel Captain Cook, which is named after the famous Captain James Cook, who explored the waterways of Alaska looking for the Northwest Passage. Cook Inlet is named for him. We spent some time browsing through their gift shops, which had really nice, expensive art. Definitely some that I wish I could afford! I even made friends with a bear.

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Next, we visited the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo. Again, very strange place for a museum, but they have over 900 Alaskan artifacts in a free museum inside the bank. Pretty much anywhere and everywhere you look is Alaskan Native art. They had an old Yup’ik kayak similar to one my great-grandfather made that was made from sealskin and woven together with sinew. When the sinew got wet, it would expand to fill the holes made from sewing the skins together. The outside of the kayaks would last about 2 years before they needed to be replaced, while the frames remained sturdy for 10 years. The Eskimos would hunt using these kayaks, and they were large enough for two people to sit inside if they were back to back. Sometimes kids or smaller adults would be able to lie down inside the ends of the kayak. Talk about claustrophobia waiting to happen!

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Yup’ik kayak

They also had a 14-foot wooly mammoth tusk at the museum that was found in 1992 in Fairbanks. It’s hard to believe how big a wooly mammoth had to be to be able to walk around with those huge tusks!

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We decided to head out to Earthquake Park, where the 1964 Good Friday earthquake took place that is one of the most destructive earthquakes in history. My dad was 2 1/2 years old when the earthquake happened and living in Anchorage at the time. He says that when the earthquake took place he, his sister, mom and dad were driving in a car and the ground was just rolling like waves. He and Aunt Pamela thought it was fun and were laughing about it! The earthquake caused massive landslides that resulted in the ground to drop 20-30 feet in some places. They turned this area into a park. It also gives a great view of downtown Anchorage.

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It’s hard to see, but this shows how much lower the trees are than where I am standing. That’s how far the ground dropped in the land slide.

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