The Legacy Continues

After an exhibit is installed, one might think that the work of the guest curator is done. More often than not, this isn’t the case. The curator will continue to work with the museum’s education and public programs staff to assist with elements being developed for school kits, Family Day activities, and even possible special events like lectures, book signings, or any other ideas they might come up with.

I’m doing a bit of that right now, but what is truly captivating me and illustrates the continuing story that we’ve highlighted in Denali Legacy is the Denali 2013 Centennial Climb. As I sit in the climate-controlled comfort of my office at the Museum, a group of descendants of the 1913 team are hauling gear along Muldrow Glacier, following in the footsteps of their forebears.

A week and a half ago, I had the privilege of taking Robert Tatum’s handmade flag to the ARAMARK McKinley Chalet Resort, to be part of the send-off celebration that was taking place on June 4.

Traveling with Robert Tatum's 1913 flag.

Traveling with Robert Tatum’s 1913 flag.

The flag was temporarily removed from our exhibit walls, packed safely in my rental car, and driven two hours to the Denali Park area.

Bishop Mark Lattime speaks to visitors while Robert Tatum's 1913 flag rests on the model of Denali.

Bishop Mark Lattime speaks to visitors while Robert Tatum’s 1913 flag rests on the model of Denali and Hudson Stuck’s eucharist set is readied for communion.

There, it was shared with visitors and the Centennial Climb team, who received communion and a blessing from the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Alaska, the Right Reverend Mark Lattime. The Bishop admitted with regret that he would not be joining the climb team as he had originally planned, but would instead assume a similar role as Bishop Rowe from 1913, offering support from Fairbanks along with many others. The ceremony, which happened in the lobby of the McKinley Chalet Resort, was thought-provoking and touching, and I was honored to be in the audience. The short meet-and-greet after, allowed for an intimate Q&A period with these inspiring young men, as they shared their hopes and concerns for the events of the next month.

Denali 2013 Centennial Climb team, from left: Ken Karstens, Ray Schuenemann, Sam Tatum, Bishop Lattime, Dana Wright, and Dan Hopkins.

Denali 2013 Centennial Climb team, from left: Ken Karstens, Ray Schuenemann, Sam Tatum (holding his great grand-uncle’s flag), Bishop Lattime, Dana Wright, and Dan Hopkins (not pictured, Sam Alexander).

I think I can say that all of us felt the love and trust this group of men share, as they embark on this grand adventure, spearheaded and pushed through by Ken Karstens, great-grandson of Harry Karstens. As they make their way up the Muldrow Glacier route, one hundred years after their ancestors, there are a core group of family members and followers wishing them well, thinking about how proud those men of 1913 would be.


About AKEthnoGirl

I've been the Collections Manager of Ethnology & History at the University of Alaska Museum of the North since 1999. I worked as a graduate student in the department for three years prior to that. I grew up in Iowa, but moved to Alaska the day after I graduated from the University of Iowa in 1994, having spent the past 3 summers working for my Aunt & Uncle at beautiful Portage Glacier Lodge. I'm completely in love with my life in Alaska, which includes my husband and son and two dogs and my 14-sided-house, as well as my job, which takes me to interesting places where I meet amazing people who share incredible stories with me about all kinds of things. I hope to share some of the exciting things I love about my job, being the caretaker of a 16,000 object collection of Alaskan cultural heritage, and an active member of a number of Museum and Anthropology professional organizations.
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