The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum Fund is an agency fund to support the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum, a nonprofit museum located in a log cabin located in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. The Museum houses a collection of traditional Nunamiut Eskimo items including animal skin clothing, hunting gear, tools, and cultural items.

I know who that is, it’s my great grandfather.

So began the journey of a young student who visited the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum (SPMM) with her fourth-grade class. The museum curator told a story about a great hunter, one who looked out for the people in the band he traveled with. The hunter’s skill made him enormously valuable to the group and his wisdom made them seek his counsel when a problem arose. For the little girl, the description, and the name of the story’s subject, led her to recognize a family member, one she had never met. The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum “matters”. From local to international, its meaningfulness is only now beginning to be widely appreciated.

In 1986, the people of Anaktuvuk Pass built a museum. Its mission: to collect, preserve, and interpret objects and materials relating to the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Nunamiut. The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum has become a vital asset to the community and is respected throughout the state of Alaska for its exhibits and its collections of artifacts, photographs, written and oral histories. The museum serves as a wonderful resource for school children and adults, both residents and visitors. But, the true significance of the museum lies in its unique property as the cultural touchstone for the Nunamiut people.

In 1999, the Nunamiut of Anaktuvuk Pass celebrated the 66th anniversary of their community. Before settling in Anaktuvuk Pass, the Nunamiut lived a nomadic lifestyle in the central Brooks Range in Alaska. They fished, trapped, hunted, and gathered foods from the forest and tundra, getting their nutrition from the vast herds of caribou which migrated from the forest to offshore islands in the Arctic Ocean each spring and back to the forest each fall. Within the span of a lifetime, these remarkable people made the transition from nomadic hunters living in tents of caribou hides and using dog teams, to a fully modern village. As a result, the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum has become vital to the community in preserving the culture and passing along their traditions to the youth.

The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum has become, as the Nunamiut elders intended, a storehouse of data about the Nunamiut and their way of life. Even more, it has become a cultural wellspring, where people can go to learn about their ancestors or strengthen their knowledge of traditional Nunamiut culture. The Nunamiut depends on the museum and it needs to be there so other children can say, “I know who that is!”

You can give to the museum. Search “Simon Paneak Memorial Museum Fund” under the “Donate” page on our website, or click here.

Interested in learning more about the museum? Find a weblink and informative video on Facebook by searching www.facebook/spmm1akp.

Established in 1986, The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum is a cultural touchstone of the Nunamiut people, a resource to memorialize, preserve, and pass on the unique traditions and lifestyle of the Nunamiut to future generations of those in Anaktuvuk Pass and around the world.

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