PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Leadership in History Awards received from AASLH
Juneau-Douglas City Museum
The Juneau-Douglas City Museum is one of 84 organizations to receive a 2006 Merit Award from the American Association State and Local and History for the Montana Creek Fish Trap Replica Project.

Of those 84 recipients, the City Museum was also one of only four selected for the WOW award, which is given at the committee's discretion to no more than 5 percent of the merit award recipients.

The WOW award is given for projects that go above and beyond in programming and public-outreach, are highly entrepreneurial and creative.

"The museum is so honored to receive not only the merit award but an additional WOW award from the association," said museum director Jane Lindsey.

In 1945, the AASLH established the Leadership in History Awards to create and encourage standards of excellence in collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States.

These awards are the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

Fellow 2006 WOW award recipients include: The 9th Judicial Circuit Historical Society, Pasadena, CA for the Judge Cecil Poole Biography Project; La Pilita Association in Tucson, AZ for the La Pilita Student Docent Education Program; and The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston for outstanding efforts in documenting the history of Boston's gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender communities.

"The (Montana Creek Fish Trap) project had lots of components- educational, artistic, demonstrations, and kid's activities - that typically accompany exhibits at the largest museums in the country. Those museums have hundreds of staff members to make all these great things happen. The City Museum pulled all of this off locally, with a handful of smart and dedicated staff backed by a very supportive community," said Steve Henrikson, who, along with Jan Criswell, were commissioned to construct the full-scale replica.

In 2005, the City Museum secured a $10,000 Grant-in-Aid from the Alaska State Museum to complete conservation treatment and exhibit the fish trap. Curator of collections and exhibits Ellen Carrlee, who is also a trained conservator, was able to use her expertise to stabilize the trap for exhibit at the city museum.

"She spent many long hours working on this project and made a difficult and tedious task seem doable," Lindsey said.

In conjunction with the conservation work, the Alaska State Museum hosted a variety of activities in March 2005; including fish trap games and songs relating to subsistence culture.

Additional funding was then secured from the Alaska Humanities Forum and Sealaska Heritage Institute to commission a full-scale replica to aid in the interpretation and further understanding of the trap and importance of fishing to the Native people of this area.

In May 2005 Criswell and Henrikson began gathering the materials to construct the replica. According to Criswell, however, preparation for this project began shortly after the initial excavation of the trap from Montana Creek in 1991. Criswell, along with Mary Lou King, who constructed a fish trap model to be used with the museum's educational programs, began collecting and preparing spruce roots for a fish trap model 15 years ago.

In addition to the actual construction of the replica, there were a myriad of related activities including school tours, Tlingit storytelling presentations by Ishmael Hope and Lily Hudson, demonstrations of preparing fish trap materials and using traditional tools by the artists, a slide lecture by Henrikson, and a halibut hook making class taught by Tlingit artist Donald Gregory.

Throughout these various stages of the project, a great emphasis was placed on the collaboration of all interested parties, despite ambiguous ownership issues, and community involvement through participation in related programming and school tours.

Helen Alten and Jon Loring oversaw the original preservation treatment and Banghart and Associates created an unobtrusive mount for the original trap.