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Historic photo of Alaskan fishermen
Early Kachemak Bay fisherman show off their halibut catch Photo courtesy Pratt Museum

Lore of Fishing and Marine Harvesting in Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Native Alaskans and local fishermen shared spirited oral histories of the lore of fishing and marine harvesting in Kachemak Bay for the Communities of Oral History project, sponsored by the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska. Museum staff and other specialists videotaped the narration and activities aboard working fishing vessels from Homer. The videotapes were developed as part of a documentary film, which also incorporated historic and contemporary photographs.

Kachemak Bay is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, known for its diversity of marine life, which have provided a generous livelihood to generations of both Native Alaskan and other local inhabitants. The film primarily concentrates on commercial fishing from the Homer community, showing crabpot fishing, salmon seining and gillnetting, shrimp trawling, halibut and cod long-lining; and marine harvesting in the Sugpiaq/Alutiig villages of Seldovia and Nanwalek. The film's narrations discuss salmon recovery, and gathering of octopus, snails and beach greens, particularly "goose tongues" and lovage.

The Pratt Museum/Homer Society of Natural History, established in 1955, is dedicated to exploring the relationship between the human experience and the natural environment in the Kachemak Bay region of Alaska for educational purposes. The 16-minute film was crafted for installation in an interactive exhibition module on historic fishing and native cultures at the Pratt Museum. Fourteen hours of archival film footage have been set aside for broader educational use, including village distribution. School groups and individuals will be able to access the database to extract favorite vignettes and build their own video histories of the Kachemak Bay region and its people.

The project is partly supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Community Folklife Program, administered by the Fund for Folk Culture. Project documentation includes text on the community-based video project that produced the film, the Pratt Museum, and the project film itself in videotape format.

Originally submitted by: Frank Murkowski, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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