The AMIQ Institute

The AMIQ Archives

The Seal Islands of the Bering Sea Archives consist of materials collected by Susanne Swibold and Helen Corbett on the Pribilof Islands, Alaska (1981-1993) and Commander Islands, Kamchatka (1994-1998). The archives include:

· 400,000 photographic images (b&w, color negative, slides, prints)
· 250 hours of movie footage, 100 hours of video footage
· 200 hours of sound recordings (oral histories, wild sound)
· field notes and journals
· rare photographs and first-edition historical records of these islands from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The archives provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary portrait of the Aleut culture in an ecological context, with extensive recording of fur seal, sea bird and other biological communities in these ecosystems. It documents the demise of Aleut seal-harvesting cultures and community efforts to overcome geographic isolation, economic vulnerability, rapid social and cultural change, ill-informed opposition to sustainable resource use, and large-scale development scenarios. The archives show a northern culture dealing with resource issues at a time when the Bering Sea environment is in serious decline, and when industrial-scale fishing, pollution, and climate change appear to threaten recovery of biological populations that have traditionally sustained these cultures.

A sample of the archives' content:
· the world's largest single collection of photographs of the northern fur seal and breeding rookeries
· film and sound recordings of Aleut elders and artists Sergie and Agnes Savoroff, William Tcherpianoff Sr., John Hoover
· Aleut Orthodox liturgical songs led by Archpriest Michael Lestenkof
· Aleut environmental knowledge (Nick Stepetin, Greg Fratis Sr., Lavrenty Stepetin, Larry Merculieff)
· recordings of rare Attuan Aleut dialect from Medny Island
· community meetings depicting Aleuts grappling with sudden, chaotic change.

Amiq Institute is now seeking funding to scan a selection of the archives into digital format to make available through the Pribilof schools, the Aleut Heritage Library and Archive of the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association, Anchorage, and the Aleutsky Regional Study Museum in Nikolskoye, Bering Island. The material can be adapted into "talking maps", cultural atlases and information-restricted Web sites. An archives team, with representatives from the Pribilof and Commander communities, will explore what parts of the archives will be available to Aleuts, other native communities, northern scholars, and the general public.

For more information please refer to the contact page.