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Photos: Student carvers learn to make Alaska Native musical instruments

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  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published October 10, 2015

On Wednesday at the Anchorage Museum's Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, three students spent the day turning cedar planks into musical instruments.

Under the supervision of Tsimshian master carver John Hudson, Tlingit master carver Norman Jackson, and Haida master carver Donald Varnell, students from UAA learned how to use handmade tools to hollow out the cedar and make a whistle.

"Traditionally, with my Inupiaq heritage, we would work with driftwood, usually cottonwood," said Inupiaq / Athabascan student Brian Walker II. "I like working with cedar. I like the smell, I like the way it works."

The Smithsonian's artist residency program is focused on "material traditions," with cedar being this particular program's focus. Not only do master craftsmen get to pass on their skills, but museum conservators use the knowledge to better enable them to care for the artifacts in their custody.

Watch a video of student Brian Walker II creating a cedar whistle.

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