ANCHORAGE, AK—This summer will be busy for the NN Cannery Project Team, who is preparing to launch three major projects in Naknek and South Naknek. Project Director Katherine Ringsmuth and a team of historians, curators, artists, and film producers will be at the NN Cannery in late July with a film crew to capture footage and conduct interviews for a short film that highlights the vital work of Native cannery workers. The model and film will be part of the Mug Up exhibition at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. Meanwhile, the team developed the exhibition, Bristol Bay Remembers: The Great Flu of 1919, which is currently on display at the Bristol Bay Historical Society Museum in Naknek. The photo exhibit is curated by Tim Toll to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish Influenza epidemic in Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay Remembers opened on June 1 and is on display until July 31.
Cannery Caretaker Film
This summer, the NN Cannery History Project and Jensen Hall Creative are teaming up to produce a short documentary called Cannery Caretakers, which will be part of the Mug Up exhibition at the Alaska State Museum. The short film will tell the story of cannery life through the perspective of the South Naknek resident workers—the descendants of Katmai, who migrated downriver and established South Naknek after Novarupta volcano destroyed Savonoski village and created the Valley of 10,000 Smokes in 1912. Settlement at New Savonoski, however, was brief, as the Spanish Flu pandemic and red salmon crash of 1919 drove the Native residents to seek work at the NN Cannery at South Naknek. Despite a cultural lifeway lost to cannery work, Native people became integral contributors to and caretakers of the cannery operation. Historically, they supplied salmon to the cannery, constituted the “spring/fall” crew that readied and winterized the operation, and served as winter watchmen who protected the collective structures and stored boats throughout the offseason.
“We are thrilled to have to opportunity to interview people with a deep knowledge of Bristol Bay, South Naknek and the NN Cannery,” said Kathrine Ringsmuth, director of the NN Cannery History Project. “The film will share the local perspective of a global industry and fill a big gap in the historic record.”
“It’s part of my cultural identity,” said Brad Angasan, Sr. Vice-President for the Alaska Peninsula Corporation. Angasan, who is part of the film production, grew up at South Naknek and worked for beach gang on the spring/fall crew. “Working at the NN Cannery was an educational experience because work exposed me to so many different ways of life.”
Support for the film comes from generous grants from the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Rasmuson Foundation. For more information about the Cannery Caretakers film, contact NN Cannery History Project Director Katherine Ringsmuth at 907-830-2251.
Spanish Influenza Commemorative Exhibit
The photo exhibition—Bristol Bay Remembers: The Great Flu of 1919—will be on display between June 1 and July 31 at the Bristol Bay Historical Society Museum in Naknek, AK. Curated by Tim Troll, Director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and history advisor for the NN Cannery History Project, the exhibit aims to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish Influenza outbreak in Bristol Bay, one of the most historically significant episodes in Alaska history, yet one of the least remembered. The exhibit is a remembrance of those who died tragically, those who responded heroically, and the children who survived to give birth to the Bristol Bay of today. Support for the exhibit comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust. For more information about the exhibition, contact NN Cannery History Project Director Katherine Ringsmuth at 907-830-2251. https://www.bristolbayhistoricalsocietymuseum.com/
NN Cannery Model
The NN Cannery History Project is commissioning Andrew Abyo to build a 1/25” scale model of the NN Cannery, which will serve as the centerpiece of the Mug Up exhibition. Andrew will render each of the 51 historic buildings, 2 structures, 2 objects, and 7 sites, as well as the landscape so that visitors to the Mug Up exhibition will be able to visual the size and scope of Alaska’s salmon canneries.
To support the cannery model, the NN Cannery History Project is hosting a Cork Commemoration fundraiser to honor those who plied the waters, canned the salmon, and put food on tables around the world. For $100 donation, we will engrave your name, (or a person you would like remembered), company/boat, work description, and years worked, on a wooden cork. The corks will be hung by Bristol Bay net hangers and placed on display in the Mug Up Exhibition. To order a cork, visit our “cannery store” on our website at https://nncanneryproject.com/wooden-cork-commemoration.