PUBLISHED: 1:46 PM on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Montana Creek fish trap replica project takes over city museum while completed

In 1989, someone stumbled upon a unique artifact partially imbedded in the banks of Montana Creek. This event sparked a community history lesson that was reignited in 2004, when the City Museum received funding from Sealaska Heritage Institute, Sealaska Corporation, and a $10,000 Grant-in-Aid from the Alaska State Museum to bring the trap out of storage, stabilize it and put it on display at the City Museum.

Few basketry style fish traps of this construction have ever been found in an archaeological context on the Northwest Coast, and none that we know of are on exhibit. As we head into the new year, yet another chapter in this ongoing lesson begins.

In December 2005, the City Museum received a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to construct a replica of the fish trap.

"Reconstructing the Montana Creek Fish trap will explore, examine, and reinvent the techniques and resources available to the original makers," said museum director Jane Lindsey. "This is exciting because there are no basketry style traps of this type from this area to compare this one to and as we build the replica and talk to each other, questions such as why did the makers of the trap use the materials that they did? What types of tools would have been available, what kind of fish would have been gathered by the trap? How were the fish taken out of the trap, and 500-700 years ago, what kind of body of water was the trap placed in? may be answered."

The purpose of the replica is to enhance the interpretation and understanding of the traps original function, and to examine and discuss outstanding questions about the trap and its use. The full-scale replica will allow the public to see what the trap looked like and will complement the "community history lesson" that was begun when the original trap was excavated in 1991.

Beginning Saturday, Jan. 14, the public will be able to watch Steve and Janice work on the trap on Saturdays throughout January from 1-4 p.m. The public is also encouraged to stop by the City Museum to see the construction progress during regular museum hours: Tuesday -Saturdays, from Noon to 4:00 p.m.

On Saturday, January 14, Criswell will demonstration spruce root preparation at 1:00pm. Henrikson will present a lecture on the Montana Creek Fish Trap on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm. A kids' activity will also be available during this time.

"The museum has worked very hard to bring the fish trap and the replica to the public. With support from the Alaska State Museum, Sealaska Corporation, Sealaska Institute, The Alaska Humanities Forum, the Aakw Kwaan, and so many more, we are very proud to play a part in preserving this story."

For more information regarding these or other museum programs and events please call 586-3572 or check the museum's Web site at