The Simon Paneak Memorial Museum is a combination Local History and Ethnographic Museum, located in the village of Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. It is housed in a handsome log structure situated on high ground near the northwest corner of the village, overlooking the community and the broad panorama of the summit of the Anaktuvuk Pass. Named in honor of an early village leader and respected elder, the museum was established in 1986 through the efforts of the entire community, and was operated by the Planning Department of the North Slope Borough up until 2015. The museum is currently operated by the IHLC department of the North Slope Borough.
The museum’s exhibits focus upon the history, culture and traditional lifestyle of the Nunamiut or Inland Inupiat of the central Brooks Range. It hosts 1000 square feet of exhibit space, covering a variety of topics designed to draw a broad informative sketch of the Nunamiut way of life. Introductory panels begin by highlighting the origins and physical environment of the Brooks Range, as well as the origins and history of the Nunamiut themselves. These are followed by additional panels portraying their seasonal pattern of subsistence activities, ranging from hunting and fishing through trapping and trading. Strong emphasis is placed upon exhibits illustrating the importance of caribou as the foundation of the Nunamiut people’s economy, culture and once nomadic lifestyle. Their story is finally rounded out with a pictorial essay about the settling of Americas last group of nomadic Eskimos into the permanent village of Anaktuvuk Pass.
The Paneak Museum in Spring
Also associated with the museum is the Hans Van Der Laan Brooks Range Library Collection which emphasizes general as well as scientific and research references relating to the Brooks Range, the Nunamiut and other earlier and contemporary peoples of the area. The Library also serves double duty as the museum office and administration areas.
The purpose of the Museum, as defined by community elders, is to collect, preserve and interpret objects and other associated materials and information relating to the history, culture and lifestyle, both past and present, of the Nunamiut Inupiat. This is accomplished by the display, presentation and interpretation of these materials through public exhibitions, educational programs and continuing research.
Elders who helped establish the museum and define its role
As the last remaining group of inland dwelling Nunamiut, the people of Anaktuvuk Pass possess a strong sense of uniqueness and cultural identity. The museum serves as an important resource for the elders and educators of the community to pass traditional knowledge, skills and values on to their young people by working in close cooperation with the North Slope Borough’s Inupiat History, Language, and Culture Commission and the North Slope Borough School District, to develop historical and cultural information for classroom use.
The youth for whom the elders struggled to build the museum and the beneficiaries of that effort
Additionally, because the Nunamiut people have been the subjects of and hosts to numerous scientific studies, the Museum is looking to become the primary resource center and clearing house for information concerning the Nunamiut Inupiat. Researchers, research institutions, museums and archives throughout the United States and around the world are being contacted to solicit listings and/ or copies of photographs, publications and collections data on their holdings of Nunamiut archaeological or ethnographic materials. Through this effort the Museum will work to bring visitors to a greater understanding and appreciation of this land and its people.
How to find us
The Museum and the community are only accessible by air. Daily direct flights from Fairbanks are available from several air carriers serving the community. Round-trip air fare averages around $300.00 per person but varies from carrier to carrier. Among those serving Anaktuvuk Pass are:
- Warbelows Air Ventures. Contact number: 1 800 478 0812
- Wright Air Service. Contact number: 1 800 478 0502
- Guided package tours are available through Northern Alaska Tour Company. Contact number: (907) 474-8600
The museum and its associated library collection is just a short walk from the village airstrip. The building is equipped with ramps to facilitate handicapped access and has indoor plumbing.
Publications and informational materials, local native crafts and other items are available at the museum gift shop.
Hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
Admission fee: $10.00
Vicky Monahan, Museum Curator
Simon Paneak Memorial Museum
P.O. Box 21085
Anaktuvuk Pass, AK, 99721
Phone Number: (907) 661-3413
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org