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Seal Science: Into the Ocean: The importance of bio sampling for the preservation of Indigenous seal hunting practices

This article is one of eight in a series of outreach materials funded through a partnership between Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM) on harbor seal conservation and subsistence harvesting.

By Maddie Henson

Wooch Yáx and Haa Aaní — values of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures which prioritize balance and the protection of land — are the same ones applied to culturally responsible seal hunting. In the oceans ranging from the Dixon Entrance to the Aleutian Islands, harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) function as critical links in the food webs of marine ecosystems. On land, they find a place as hallmarks of traditional Southeast Alaskan culture and diets. Everything has a purpose: the hide serves as the basis of art and clothing, the meat feeds the community, and the oil from the blubber is used to preserve and accompany subsistence foods. Indigenous people have recognized that there is no independent member, including themselves, in an ecosystem and have learned that overpopulation, disease, and environmental challenges can impact a healthy seal population and in turn, the entire ecosystem...(more) (9-30-23)


Seal Science: An Evolution of Traditional Subsistence Hunting: From the Faroe Islands to Southeast Alaska

This article is one of eight in a series of outreach materials funded through a partnership between Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM) on harbor seal conservation and subsistence harvesting.

By Sara Little

To understand a science, especially one as old as Indigenous hunting and fishing, you must first understand the culture in which it exists. 

Non-Indigenous folks and policy makers often make calls to outlaw Indigenous traditional subsistence hunting practices. Reducing or limiting subsistence harvests threatens the livelihood and cultural wellbeing of Indigenous peoples...(more) (9-29-23)


Seal Science: The Whole Seal: Traditional Diets and Food Security

This article is one of eight in a series of outreach materials funded through a partnership between Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM) on harbor seal conservation and subsistence harvesting. 

By Abigail Sweetman

“Food is medicine” is a common adage among Indigenous communities, and while it’s easy to see the capacity for cultural, social, and spiritual healing in the rituals of harvesting and consuming traditional foods, understanding the importance of these diets has not been an intuitive process. While the colonization of Indigenous lands by Western settlers led to conscious and violent suppression of language and culture, this disenfranchisement also had a significant impact on traditional diets. Harbor seals, as a species, are important not only for their roles in their environments but also for their cultural and nutritional impact on Native cuisine. Desiree Jackson, Goldbelt Heritage’s executive director and a Registered Dietician specializing in traditional foods, shared some of her knowledge in a decade’s worth of research in Alaskan Indigenous communities to help uncover how hunting seals feeds Native communities and how valuable traditional diets are to community health, cultural sovereignty, and food security...(more) (6-20-23)

Tlingit student Gáanax Sháa Gloria Eyon on graduation day. All photos courtesy of Michael Penn.

First student graduates from new Northwest Coast art college degree program!

Tlingit student Gloria Eyon has made history by being the first to graduate from an AA degree program that includes an emphasis on Northwest Coast arts.

The landmark program at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), offered in partnership with SHI, was first launched in 2020. In May, Tlingit student, Gáanax Sháa Gloria Eyon, accepted her degree.

We recently asked her about her journey, accomplishments, and future plans...(more) (6-1-23)


Seal Science: Establishing Baselines: Data Gaps in Harbor Seal Research

This article is one of eight in a series of outreach materials funded through a partnership between Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM) on harbor seal conservation and subsistence harvesting.

By Abigail Sweetman

While residents and visitors of coastal Alaska may have to search to see a humpback whale or a blue heron, a less elusive and appropriately-named harbor seal can often be found lounging near the docks. Like much Alaskan wildlife, harbor seals blend into Alaska’s unique urban environments seamlessly, making them feel almost pedestrian. While harbor seals are one of North America’s most common marine mammals, their sustained history of cultural and ecological importance in Alaska make them anything but ordinary. Their widespread nature makes them uniquely important across a diverse range of Alaska’s coastal Indigenous communities...(more) (4-19-23)


Exterior of the SHI building, which features formline design by master Haida artist Robert Davidson.

Formline Deterioration in Northwest Coast Art

The Sealaska Heritage (SHI) Native Artist Committee in their recent meeting expressed deep concern about the deterioration of Northwest Coast (NWC) formline that they are seeing within our community of artists. The concerns relate to the lack of knowledge and command in composition, proportion, and balance between positive and negative spaces.

The Committee notes formline is the foundation of NWC art, and students must have an understanding and command of NWC formline to maintain the integrity and aesthetics of NWC art. NWC art is based on formline that is unique in the world and evolved over thousands of years...(more) (4-18-23)

A man in glasses with a shaved head smiles for a headshot in front of a wooden back drop.

Eechdaa Dave Ketah, who was born in Ketchikan, now lives in Portland, OR. Despite living away from Lingít aaní, Ketah has been connecting with his heritage by taking online classes offered at SHI and UAS, visiting his father’s people in Klawock to learn to carve and by attending Celebration in person in 2022. 

The Inbox

Tales from the trail

Photos and Text by Eechdaa Dave Ketah

At SHI we take our mission to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures very seriously. When we hear from people who have been affected by what we do, it makes our day. This letter from Dave Ketah made our year. (more) (12-27-22)


 A large crowd of people gather for a posed portrait, staggered in rows, seated and standing in regalia.

In the Boat & On the Shore

Immersive Learning Experiences with Haa Yoo X’atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathways

Photos and Text by Stacy Unzicker

Along the back of a banquet hall sits a long table holding pictures of beloved elders and ancestors that look on as various speakers wearing precious regalia share their memories of the immense work that goes into revitalizing Indigenous languages. (more) (10-31-22)


Calling on our Grandparents’ Knowledge: Hundreds gather to discuss culturally responsive education in Alaska

Sealaska Heritage’s fourth culturally responsive education conference, Our Cultural Landscape, was held virtually for the second time Aug. 5-7, drawing more than 450 educators from Alaska, the Lower 48, and beyond. The event featured prominent Indigenous keynote speakers and more than two dozen breakout presentations, while providing opportunities for attendees to discuss the many complex issues surrounding culturally responsive education. (more) (8-19-21)



Photos: Voices on the Land Storytelling Camp 2021

By Kaasteen (Katelynn Drake)​

Photos by: Carl Tuzroyluke

Sealaska Heritage’s Voices on the Land program was first held in Juneau in 2014, with the goal of improving student literacy skills, as well as increasing Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian language use through the mediums of performing arts and digital storytelling... (more) (8-4-21)

Spruce-root apprentices seeking roots. Photos by Carl Tuzroyluke.

Photos: Apprentices go spruce-root gathering, prepping!

By Kaasteen (Katelynn Drake)​

Sealaska Heritage’s spruce-root gathering and weaving class held its first session on Saturday, June 19. Ten apprentice students in Juneau convened at the start of Boy Scout Camp Trail to learn the art of spruce-root gathering from master artist Naakil.aan (Hans Chester)...(more) (7-23-21)

Northern Regional Traditional Games brings athletes together in Juneau for COVID-conscious competition

By Lyndsey Brollini​

Athletes from Juneau and four other communities, Hoonah, Anchorage, Unalakleet, and Kotzebue, competed in the Northern Regional Traditional Games held May 8-9...(more) (5-26-21)

A CLOSER LOOK: How SHI's Celebrations are being digitized, made available online for the first time

By Lyndsey Brollini

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) recently released all its video from Celebration 1982 onto YouTube, bringing the footage online for public access for the first time, and plans to release all other Celebrations by 2022...(more) (3-19-21)

Cyril George: 75 Years of Perspective through Photos

By Mikayla Mitchell

“I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for pop. Some people will never be forgotten, and neither will you,” said Roberta Jack, daughter of the late Angoon Elder Cyril George, to Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy over Zoom at a ceremony in Sealaska Heritage Institute’s clan house, Shuká Hít...(more) (8-24-20)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: What is your position on the petition to remove the Seward statue in Juneau?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. This question was in the news recently...(more) (6-21-20)

Mara Sheakley-Early competing in the Two-Foot High Kick. ​Photo by Lyndsey Brollini, SHI Media Department. 

Photos: Another successful year at the 2020 Traditional Games

(Official Results)

By Lyndsey Brollini​

One hundred and forty-five athletes from across Alaska, Arizona, and Canada competed in the third annual Traditional Games in Juneau, held March 7-8 at Juneau Douglas High School: Kalé.

Athletes from 14 different communities attended this statewide event...(more) (4-2-20)

Practicing our values, from Baby Raven Reads

By Tess Olympia
SHI Education Program Manager

Suddenly, we are home with our children, all day every day. How do we shift to a daily life of “social distancing” with infants and young children? Let’s take advantage of this time at home to practice our values...(more) (3-26-20)

Research Updates: Continuing collaboration with the Metlakatla First Nation

By Alyssa Bader, Sealaska Heritage Postdoctoral Fellow

As a National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at Sealaska Heritage Institute, I will be working under the mentorship of Dr. Rosita Worl to explore the relationship between diet and the community of bacteria living in our mouths, called the oral microbiome. Through the oral microbiome, I hope to identify some of the biological processes underlying how our traditional foods support our health and wellbeing. I will be posting updates about my research activities throughout my two-year fellowship period...(more) (1-15-20)

Naa Sháade Háni (Clan Leader): Stepping into the Office of Clan Leader  

In December 2019, after several months of deliberation, Sealaska Heritage's Council of Traditional Scholars developed this Clan Leaders statement to offer the minimal qualities of character and knowledge that they collectively see as necessary for clan leaders.  It does not propose to include all requirements or responsibilities. The Council further recognizes that clans may have additional or different standards and these are respected. The Council of Traditional Scholars recognizes this is an organic document and that changes and amendments may be made in the future. The Council encourages others to offer their recommendations...(more) (12-12-19)  

Meet Tsimshian scholar Alyssa Bader

SHI Postdoctoral Fellow studying impact of Native food on people

One of Alyssa Bader’s strongest connections to her culture has always been food. That she is studying how traditional Southeast Alaska Native foods impact health, then, is not too surprising.

Dr. Bader, who is Tsimshian, received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Illinois.  She is currently serving as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Researcher at Sealaska Heritage Institute working under the mentorship of Dr. Rosita Worl on a post-doctorate program funded by the National Science Foundation...(more) (11-27-19)

The raising of the totem pole raising in Massett in 1969

The renowned master artist Robert Davidson sometimes submits pieces for SHI's blog. This month, news of a new documentary on a totem pole raising in Old Massett in 1969 came out. The film, Now is the Time, explores the raising of a pole carved by Davidson and his brother, Reg. Robert wrote this blog to provide some more context...(more) (8-26-19)

Latseen Northwest Coast Art and Leadership Academy – July 7-18, 2019

Alaska Native high school students immersed themselves in culturally-based education and leadership training on the ancestral territory of the Áak’w Ḵwáan during Sealaska Heritage’s Latseen Art & Leadership academy, held in partnership with Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) and in collaboration with Goldbelt Heritage Foundation...(more) (8-13-19)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: What is the proper response when a clan performs Spirit Song?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. In this post, SHI President Rosita Worl addresses the question "What is the proper response when a clan performs a Spirit Song?...(more) (7-30-19)

Photos: Community carving sessions at Gajaa Hít

By Lyndsey Brollini

The smell of cedar and the pounding of adzes hitting wood filled the air at Gajaa Hít on a recent Saturday during what has become a regular gathering for a small group of Juneau carvers.

The Haa Latseen Community Project carving sessions, a Sealaska Heritage program, at Gajaa Hít began December 15, 2018, and have occurred most Saturdays since then... (more) (6-4-2019)

Left: Team Juneau walks in the athlete parade at the Native Youth Olympic Games in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Michael Dinneen. Right: Team Juneau on their last day of practice before traveling to Anchorage for the NYO Games. Photo by Lyndsey Brollini.

Photos: A look back on Team Juneau and the 2018-2019 season of Native Youth Olympics

By Lyndsey Brollini

More than 400 athletes from across the state traveled to Anchorage to compete in the 2019 Native Youth Olympic Games in April, including 12 from Team Juneau.

Team Juneau’s participation in the NYO Games was the culmination of a season of hard work and would not have been possible without the generous support of community members around the region. Gunalchéesh, háw’aa, t’oyaxsn, thank you to everyone who has helped to make this program a success (see details at the end of this post).

This was the second year in a row Team Juneau competed in the statewide NYO Games. Before last year, Juneau did not have a team competing at the NYO Games for nearly 30 years. That changed when Kyle Ḵaayák’w Worl decided to form a ¬team in November 2017. He set up practices at all three Juneau high schools, trained athletes, and organized the first-ever regional Traditional Ga¬mes event in Juneau in March 2018...(more) (5-24-19) 

"Hooked" wins first place, cultural stories category, in Alaska Press Club competition

Congratulations to former Sealaska Heritage employee Tamara Ikenberg, who just won first place in the cultural stories category from the Alaska Press Club! She wrote, Hooked: Ancient fishing technology preserved and revived for the next generation, for First Alaskans Magazine on behalf of Sealaska Heritage. The piece, first published in 2018, is reprinted here with permission from First Alaskans...(more) (5-1-19)

Respect: weighing our words after Celebration 2018

By Jessie Barker (Aarhus University, Denmark, and the Behavioural Insights Team, UK)
With thanks to Celia Denton (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Jerreed Ivanich (Johns Hopkins University) and Caitlin Stern (Santa Fe Institute)

I arrived in Juneau the day before Celebration, the zipper on my suitcase almost broken from trying to close around a bagful of clipboards. The cool, grey summer weather reminded me of my hometown, London. But what brought me almost 4500 miles across the globe to Southeast Alaska?

As a researcher of human behavior, I’m interested in when and why people help each other: who they give help to and in what situations. A lot of studies show that people are often most willing to help family members, and in fact my trips to Southeast Alaska started with family – visiting in-laws in Haines. When I first learned about Southeast Alaska Native culture, I was fascinated by the importance placed on helping, encapsulated by the core cultural value called Wooch Yáx in Lingít, Gu dlúu in X̱aad Kíl, and Ama Mackshm in Sm’algya̱x (often translated as “balance, reciprocity and respect” in English)...(more) (4-17-19)

Quality takes time

A blog by the renowned master artist Robert Davidson on Northwest Coast art:

Quality takes time, allows time for thinking. Thinking develops maturity of the end product. Too many great ideas are stunted by rushing to completion.

Knowing and acting on it are two different things...(more) (4-15-19)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: What are the challenges of integrating Native arts, culture and language into new institutions?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. This question addresses an issue we've dealt with many times in the past and continue to face today...(more) (2-11-19)



Q & A with Rosita Worl: Why do some of SHI's programs give preference to Native participants?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. This question comes to us from an Alaska educator...(more) (2-8-19)

Khuteeyi Téik’ Áwé Kei Uxeexch, ‘Even the Littlest Stone is Turned’

On Wednesday, January 23, respected Elder of the T’akhdeintaan clan, Kenny Grant, shared this Tlingit proverb with SHI staff. The topic of proverbs, parables, riddles, and other old Tlingit sayings was initially raised that day by the Vice Chair of SHI’s Board of Trustees, Albert Kookesh of the Teikhweidí clan. Appropriately, Kenny, whose carries the Tlingit name Káaxhkhaatuklaghé, responded to the topic that had been brought out by his Teikhweidí opposite.

Káaxhkhaatuklaghé began by addressing everyone in Tlingit, saying how good he felt to be among them and noting that these old sayings are an especially powerful and respectful way of addressing the opposite moiety. They can be used to console during times of pain and to inspire before difficult tasks. Unravelling their compacted and indirect meanings requires deep thinking and an intimate connection to oral traditions...(more) (1-29-19)

Voices of Our Ancestors Language Summit: Fluent speakers come together for historic event

(Watch the Summit)

Sealaska Heritage’s first-ever language summit brought together nearly 70 fluent speakers and more than 200 language learners in Juneau to recognize and celebrate the Elders who continued to speak their languages in the face of intense opposition.

“The pain caused by efforts to stamp out our languages lives in all of us, even our young people who experienced the trauma through past generations,” said SHI President Ḵaaháni Rosita Worl during opening remarks Tuesday. “But we are not here in sorrow. We are here in gratitude. We are here to celebrate our fluent speakers who kept our languages alive. We honor you. We cherish you. We thank you for carrying our languages in spite of all that you endured and for keeping our ancestors’ voices on the land"...(more) (11-21-18)

Eleven questions: Master artist Robert Davidson on Northwest Coast art

The renowned master artist Robert Davidson has agreed to allow Sealaska Heritage to post occasional teachings online. In this latest blog, he answers eleven questions about his evolution as an artist, an artist’s role in society and the role of critics, to name a few...(more) (10-17-18)

Photos: Ketchikan horn-spoon carving class, a peek inside

Sealaska Heritage sponsored a horn-spoon carving workshop in Ketchikan this month in an effort to ensure the endangered art of goat horn spoon carving is passed on to future generations. The four-day course was taught by Steve Brown and the acclaimed Tlingit artist Nathan Jackson stopped by for a visit!

The course focused on developing the skills, constructing the molds, and learning the techniques involved with creating the shape of a goat-horn spoon. Because of the complexity of the processes involved with creating a traditionally-formed spoon and carved handle, Steve taught only the basics of carving the horn and focused primarily on molding the material into the traditional horn-spoon shape. Alsobecause of the rarity of goat horns, SHI used horns from bulls and sheep, which are very similar to goat horns...(more) (9-27-18)

Indigenous wisdom and the Arctic

SHI President Rosita Worl took part in the opening panel for the Arctic Frost Annual Network Meeting this morning at the Baranof Hotel, a three-day event focused on building collaboration among governments, Indigenous organizations and researchers in sustainable development in the Arctic. 

Worl provided attendees with an overview of the Southeast Alaska Native core cultural values – Haa Aaní, Haa Shuká, Haa Latseen, and Wooch Yax̱ – and explained how those values are integrated into Sealaska and Sealaska Heritage’s operations, including Sealaska’s forest and land management practices and SHI’s sustainable arts program. For example, the core value Haa Shuká requires Sealaska to honor the past while fulfilling its responsibilities to future generations in the management of its lands, and dictates how artists gather materials to make traditional art forms such as spruce root basketry – with an awareness of those who will come after them...(more) (9-20-18)

Photo essay: Bronze posts and a peek behind the curtain

The anatomy of making, installing and celebrating SHI's new house posts

Sealaska Heritage Institute unveiled three bronze house posts on the corner of Front and Seward Streets by the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau on Aug. 26 during a public ceremony and celebration. The posts were made by three emerging master Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian artists—Stephen Paul Jackson, TJ Young and David Robert Boxley.

The bronzes are juxtaposed against the three monumental Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian pieces at the building made by master artists Preston Singletary, Robert Davidson and David A. Boxley. The cedar posts upon which the bronzes were based are currently on view at SHI and will be erected on the waterfront side of the Sealaska building...(more) (9-1-17)

Photo Essay: A summer of learning and culture

Youth from across Southeast Alaska and beyond participate in SHI's summer programs

This summer provided many opportunities for our youth in the region. Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) held five camps aimed at providing cultural activities for youth of all ages throughout Southeast Alaska. 

Students in SHI’s camps are able to meet others and make friends who come from a variety of communities in Southeast Alaska, as well as Anchorage, Seattle, and even California. They receive hands-on training in Native art practices and learn more about core cultural values such as Haa Latseen – strength of body, mind, and spirit.  The knowledge students gain in these camps then makes its way back to their home towns, making students and their communities stronger while having fun in the process...(more) (8-24-18)

Educators throughout Alaska and beyond come together to help Alaska Native students through culturally responsive education

Attendees and presenters came from across Alaska and even as far as New Zealand to attend SHI’s second annual Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) Conference held August 1-3 in Juneau. As part of SHI’s mission to promote cross-cultural understanding, the CRE conference was created to provide teachers and administrators with an understanding of issues affecting Alaska Native students and how culturally responsive education can help support all students’ success. With more educators knowledgeable in CRE, Alaska Native cultures can be brought to the classroom, and studies have shown Native students do better academically when their world view is recognized in school.

The conference included four keynote speakers and 56 breakout sessions, and the topics varied greatly. In total, 250 educators and presenters attended the conference, which began with opening remarks by SHI’s Education Director Kevin Shipley; Joe Nelson, a vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast; Albert Kookesh, representing the Office of the Governor; and SHI President Rosita Worl. US Senator Lisa Murkowski also welcomed attendees by video...(more) (8-14-18)

Northwest Coast Art: Connecting inmates, others to Southeast Alaska Native cultures

Lemon Creek Correctional Center inmate and Tlingit and Tsimshian artist David Guthrie was clueless about his culture and unsure about his future before he got caught up in a world of copper, creativity and camaraderie.

“I feel that your class and the carving classes have saved my life, giving me purpose and helping me want to learn my culture,” Guthrie wrote in a letter to David R. Boxley, who taught a very popular formline art class at LCCC.

“This is my calling"...(more) (8-9-18)

Celebration 2018: Day 3

Throughout the third and fourth day of Celebration 2018, dance group leaders spoke of the biennial event as a time of renewal, using their moments at the microphone to share words of support, encouragement, and healing with the hundreds of people gathered in Centennial Hall, and thousands more viewers watching the broadcast. They urged tribal members to keep working hard to support cultural revitalization, reminded them to hold each other up, and paid tribute to those who had inspired and helped them succeed...(more) (6-9-18)

Celebration 2018: Day 2

Only a few children attended the first Celebration in 1982, and Elders worried that the culture might not survive. But in recent years the presence of youth has become one of the most visible and vibrant elements of Sealaska Heritage’s biennial dance and culture festival, a tangible reminder of educators’ and families’ success in engaging their children in culturally-based learning. Thursday evening, two groups in particular shone a spotlight on the hard work being done to prepare youth to carry Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian traditions far into the future...(more) (6-8-18)

Celebration 2018: Day 1

Thirty-six years after the first Celebration was held in Juneau at the urging of Elders, representatives of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people gathered on stage at Centennial Hall Wednesday evening to welcome thousands of dancers and visitors to Juneau, and to reflect on the continued evolution of an event that has come to be synonymous with Southeast Alaska Native cultural revitalization. 

Speaking for the Tlingit Eagle clans, Shangukeidí Elder David Katzeek said ancestors were watching with pride to see how far their children and grandchildren had come...(more) (6-7-18)

Photo blog: Frontlet carving workshop

Sealaska Heritage organized a frontlet carving workshop led by Ray Watkins in April and May as part of its Haa Latseen Community Project. About 10 students took the class, held at the Gajaa Hit building in Juneau...(more) (5-31-18) 

Juneau team heads to Native Youth Olympics

Juneau’s newly formed Native Youth Olympics team is heading to the games this week! Nine students from Juneau will via in competitions, including the Alaskan high kick, Eskimo stick pull, one-foot high kick and the seal hop. The games are scheduled April 26-28 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage and you can watch it live online:

Above, the team: back row: Coach Kaytlynne Lewis, Joe Dundore, Derrick Roberts, Josh Sheakley, Erick Whisenant, Bryan Johnson, Coach Kyle Kaayák’w Worl; front row left to right: Kalila Arreola, Arthur McVey, Matthew Quinto, Trinity Jackson, Skylar Tuckwood.

Here's a look at the categories in which these athletes will compete...(more) (4-24-18)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: I feel connected to my Tlingit heritage but am only 1/8 Native by blood quantum. What does this mean for me?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. This question comes to us from an Anchorage resident with blood ties to the Wooshkeetaan Clan. This person is very passionate about his Native heritage but feels left out because he is only 1/8 Native blood quantum...(more) (4-2-18)

Juneau NYO coach wins six medals at circumpolar Arctic Winter Games

Now preparing Juneau team for Native Youth Olympics program co-sponsored by SHI

Juneau athlete Kyle Kaayák’w Worl, lead coach for Juneau’s Native Youth Olympics team co-sponsored by Sealaska Heritage, brought home six medals from last week’s Arctic Winter Games, a biennial, international sporting competition open to northern and Arctic athletes. Held this year in Northwest Territories, Canada, the Arctic Winter Games emphasizes cultural exchange, mentorship, and a positive atmosphere, and in that spirit Kyle said his focus – and his message to the young athletes he trains – is on achieving his personal best rather than on outshining the competition.

“The atmosphere of the games is very supportive,” he said. “If you’re reaching your personal best, everybody is happy for you, everybody is cheering you on, and everyone helps each other out. That’s how I became successful as an athlete, by learning from other athletes. That’s what these events are for – learning from other people and sharing techniques"...(more) (3-28-18)

SHI President Rosita Worl gives presentation on cultural appropriation to educators, artists

The line between cultural appropriation and cross-cultural communication can be difficult for educators to figure out, acknowledged SHI President Rosita Worl in a presentation to art teachers, artists, and school administrators at the Walter Soboleff Building yesterday. But understanding the difference and building awareness of Northwest Coast (NWC) art traditions in the classroom is critical to the long-term survival of these art forms, she said...(more) (3-9-18)

Indigenous invention created thousands of years ago recognized for ingenuity

The induction of an ancient Alaska Native tool into the Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame during this week’s Innovation Summit in Juneau highlighted a theme echoed by multiple speakers: traditional Native knowledge can greatly enrich discussions about innovative thinking in Alaska...(more) (2-23-18)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: Our orthography, it’s important to get it right

Elders and linguists have spent decades developing a method for spelling our Native languages, which historically were oral languages and not written. It’s important that the orthography is recognized and adhered to in scholarly papers, news stories and books. It is disheartening to see Native words misspelled in public materials and it does a disservice to our people and  language restoration efforts. Because of this, Sealaska Heritage has developed the policy below. As the policy notes, considerable material is available to seek correct spellings, but if consultation with experts is necessary, compensation may be required...(more) (1-8-18)

SHI, Klawock City School District, sign agreement to expand Northwest Coast art program

Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Klawock City School District have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to help develop the district’s existing elective Northwest Coast (NWC) art courses for high school students into a career pathways course over a three-year period. The effort is funded through a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education Program, and as part of the program, MOAs have also been signed with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), the Juneau School District and the Hoonah School District. 

Through the program, partners will develop a two-year associate’s degree program in NWC art at UAS and award scholarships to applicants; expand the Juneau Fine Arts Career Pathway program to include a focus on NWC art and field-test courses in four high schools in partner communities; increase current retention rates and academic performance in math of Alaska Native high school students by integrating NWC art into math courses; document development and implementation of NWC art and culture programs at UAS and Sealaska Heritage; and produce a sustainability plan for the next phase of expansion...(more) (12-21-27)

Baby Raven Reads: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. The pilot program in Juneau ended in 2017, and SHI received funding to offer the program for another three years and to expand it to nine other communities in Southeast Alaska. Here are a few questions we get frequently and some answers...(more) (12-1-17)

Juneau as the Northwest Coast Art Capital: Why it should matter to you

By Rosita Worl
President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

Nearly 100 years ago, the small town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, held its first Santa Fe Indian Market. The market, though humble at first, has grown into an economic goliath for the town, drawing an estimated 100,000 people from around the world every year.  Over four days each August, the event brings in more than $100 million in revenues to the region.

The market has been nothing short of phenomenal. Through it, Santa Fe has created global demand for Southwest art and a venue for collectors, establishing the town as an art mecca and the place to acquire this now-coveted art form.

We have a dream to do for Northwest Coast (NWC) art and Alaska what Santa Fe did for Southwest art and New Mexico. We have a dream to make Juneau the Northwest Coast art capital of the world. Our vision is to make Juneau a destination for art lovers and to kindle a global passion for this great and unique art form...(more) (11-20-17)

Thank you veterans, traditional warriors

In commemoration of Veterans Day, we offer this roundup of videos honoring Alaska Native veterans, including Tlingit code talkers, and traditional warriors. Thank you veterans for your honorable service and for all you have sacrificed to protect our peoples and our land...(more) (11-11-17)

Tlingit Code Talkers: The warriors who helped end World War II

Navajo code talkers have long been recognized for the crucial part they played in World War II. But until very recently, no one knew that Tlingit code talkers also used the Tlingit language as a code that the enemy was never able to crack. Even the families of the Tlingit code talkers did not know of their secret service.

Today, in commemoration of Veterans Day tomorrow, we proudly honor our Tlingit code talkers...(more) (11-10-17)

The remarkable Tlingit leader Kaal.áxch and the coming of the Americans

Sealaska Heritage held its first of two November lectures Wednesday in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. Dr. Steve Langdon, professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Anchorage Department of Anthropology, spoke about the powerful Tlingit leader Ḵaal.áx̱ch, who lived in Klukwan at the time of the assertion of jurisdiction by the United States government in 1867, in a presentation titled Ḵaal.áx̱ch’s Endeavors: A Preeminent Jilkáat Tlingit Leader and the Coming of the Americans.

Langdon set the context for his discussion of Ḵaal.áx̱ch with a brief overview of continuing concerns about the ways Alaska Native history is presented.

“My primary focus is on one remarkable individual,” he said. “There were numerous other Tlingit leaders … who actively confronted the US presence and sought through their efforts a relationship of mutual respect based on their recognition of the inherent rights of the Tlingit people in their homeland. My remarks today provide you with some insights about why descendants of Alaska Natives … might see the Tongass Seward Shame Pole as a more relevant expression of their sentiments than the Seward statue here in Juneau"...(more) (11-9-17)

Master Haida artist Robert Davidson: Thoughts on Northwest Coast art

The renowned master artist Robert Davidson has agreed to allow Sealaska Heritage to post occasional teachings on Facebook. Here is our most recent installment, which Robert wrote after SHI’s sponsored a roundtable discussion in July with Northwest Coast artists...(more) (11-8-17)

Are you owed money? November 27th is deadline for Cobell Settlement claimants

More than 400 Southeast Alaska Native people and estates listed

The deadline is fast approaching for claimants in the Cobell vs. Salazar Settlement who are on the “Whereabouts Unknown” list to supply information to the claims administrators. Those Alaska Natives on this list, or their heirs, may be eligible for payments under the settlement. The deadline to file documents for payment is November 27. Click here to see a list of more than 400 Southeast Alaska Native people and estates that are listed...(more) (11-7-17)

Photos: A Tribe Called Red

The indigenous music group A Tribe Called Red rocked the house in Juneau this month through a performance sponsored by SHI, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) and KTOO. 

This photo series by Sydney Akagi begins with the Native dance group Woosh.ji.een, which opened for the band...(more) (10-30-17)

Photos: Baby Raven Book Giveaway

Confession: When we first received a federal grant to develop our Baby Raven Reads program, we were a bit daunted. The project, in part, required us to produce 18 children’s books in three years. That’s a lot. Our staff worked very hard to find the best writers and illustrators and to produce books that met the highest standards. This week, it paid off. We were overjoyed to witness the excitement of children at Juneau’s Head Start as we gave some of our latest books to them. In the books, children see themselves and their cultures. That’s a big deal because before these were published, only a few children’s books existed that told of the world through the Native world view. And, research shows educational materials that are culturally-relevant have a positive impact on indigenous students’ academic achievement. This week we also sent the books to libraries, schools and Head Start programs across Southeast Alaska for all children to enjoy.

Special thanks to Head Start teacher Kayla Tripp for allowing us document our book distribution at her class. These photos by Nobu Koch tell of the occasion more eloquently than words can do...(more) (10-27-17)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: A primer on clan leaders

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. SHI President Rosita Worl, who is from the Shangukeidí Clan and a Tlingit anthropologist, spends considerable time answering these. Because the answers to some of these questions are of general interest, we’ve launched “Q & A with Rosita Worl” on our blog to share them with the public. This blog post answers questions about clan leaders...(more) (10-25-17)

Photos: Tináa Art Auction and Native Fashion Show

We can't stop thinking about our 2017 Tináa Art Auction, which raised nearly $200,000 for the institute's new endowment to perpetuate programming for future generations and the public. The Alaska Native art that was donated by artists and collectors was flat-out stunning and the Native Fashion Show wowed us as well. We are incredibly grateful to the people and sponsors who made this program possible. The following shows highlights from the event. (Watch the Video)...(more) (10-19-17)



Q & A with Rosita Worl: Indian Point, a sacred site

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. SHI President Rosita Worl, who is from the Shangukeidí Clan and a Tlingit anthropologist, spends considerable time answering these. Because the answers to some of these questions are of general interest, we’ve launched “Q & A with Rosita Worl” on our blog to share them with the public. This blog post concerns the sacred site Indian Point, which has been in the news recently...(more) (10-9-17)

Beloved Tlingit author, poet and scholar passes away

On September 25, 2017, the world lost a giant. Nora Ḵeixwnéi Dauenhauer, Lukaax̱.ádi and beloved Tlingit author, poet and scholar, passed away at the age of 90.

Nora, with her late husband Richard Dauenhauer, made significant contributions in preserving Tlingit oral traditions through their award-winning Tlingit Oral Literature Series. Nora’s first language was Tlingit, and she didn’t speak English until she was 8. As a fluent Tlingit speaker, she was instrumental in developing the Tlingit orthography and language books that students use today...(more) (9-26-17)

Sealaska Heritage to showcase stunning bronze by Robert Davidson during First Friday

Sealaska Heritage Institute will host a public viewing of a stunning bronze sculpture by internationally acclaimed Haida artist Robert Davidson at the Walter Soboleff Building tonight for First Friday...(more) (9-1-17)

Photos: A look at SHI's Regional Jinéit Art Academy Youth Program

SHI began piloting the Jinéit Art Academy Youth Program in 2016, building partnerships in four Southeast Alaska communities with the common goal of exposing Alaska youth to high-quality Northwest Coast art programming and increasing the number of Alaska youth exposed to and familiar with Northwest Coast art forms. 

Here are some photos from our program activities in the past year in Craig, Juneau, Sitka, and Angoon. The program continues through June 2018...(more) (8-15-17)

When passions rise, our sacred objects can soar out of reach

When our sacred items go up for auction, we walk a fine line in our effort to get them back. If the public hears our outcry—that sometimes backfires, as buyers may perceive an item to be more valuable if a tribe says it is sacred. The price can quickly soar out of our reach and the sacred object is lost to us again. 

Another issue is that our passion to get our objects back can sometimes turn off sellers or even make them afraid of us. That was the case in July when a shaman’s amulet went up at auction...(more) (8-11-17)

A field trip to the museum with master weaver Delores Churchill

Sealaska Heritage is sponsoring a spruce-root weaving mentor apprenticeship program in an effort to revitalize this ancient but endangered art form of spruce root weaving. Students this week visited the Father Andrew P. Kashevarof State Library, Archives and Museum with master Haida weaver Delores Churchill to view the state’s extensive collection of traditional baskets.

The visit began with a walk through the museum gallery with Churchill and Curator of Collections Steve Henrikson … and continued with a visit to the museum vault...(more) (8-4-17)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: Slavery among the Tlingit

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. SHI President Rosita Worl, who is from the Shangukeidí Clan and a Tlingit anthropologist, spends considerable time answering these. Because the answers to some of these questions are of general interest, we’ve launched “Q & A with Rosita Worl” on our blog to share them with the public. This blog post stems from a question Rosita recently received from a cultural historian on one of the cruise lines...(more) (8-1-17)


Roundtable: A discussion about art with some of the most renowned Native artists around

In conjunction with Sealaska Heritage’s first statewide exhibit, Alaska Native Masks: Art & Ceremony, SHI invited nine artists who had loaned masks and whose work is featured in the exhibit to discuss some of the main themes explored in the show, as well as broader topics related to their work as Alaska Native artists...(more) (7-28-17)  


Q & A with Rosita Worl: When is it okay to use Northwest Coast Formline designs and crests?

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. SHI President Rosita Worl, who is from the Shangukeidí Clan and a Tlingit anthropologist, spends considerable time answering these. Because the answers to some of these questions are of general interest, we’ve launched “Q & A with Rosita Worl” on our blog to share them with the public.

This blog post stems from the many requests we get from individuals and entities that want to incorporate Northwest Coast designs and traditions into flyers, logos, pieces for sale and other materials...(more) (7-21-17)


Q & A with Rosita Worl: Tlingit views on death

At Sealaska Heritage, we field a lot of questions from the public, researchers and the media about Northwest Coast cultures. SHI President Rosita Worl, who is from the Shangukeidí Clan and a Tlingit anthropologist, spends considerable time answering these. Because the answers to some of these questions are of general interest, we’ve launched “Q & A with Rosita Worl” on our blog to share them with the public.

This first question comes from a national production studio that is developing a documentary on Tlingit culture...( more) (6-20-17)

Education conference: Understanding childhood trauma through ACES

On the last day of Sealaska Heritage’s first education conference, Our Cultural Landscape, keynote speaker Dr. Christopher Blodgett spoke about childhood trauma and described best-practice recommendations for responding to it in an educational setting. Blodgett, a clinical psychologist and a faculty member at Washington State University, is the director of the CLEAR Trauma Center at WSU.

One of the key messages of Blodgett’s talk, Moving From Loss to Resilience, was that every community member has a role to play in addressing the issue of childhood trauma.

“None of us get to be bystanders in this conversation,” he said. “This takes every one of us"...( more) (6-3-17)

Photo essay: Educators learn about core cultural values, brain research and hear a personal appeal from Lt. Governor

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s first education conference continued Friday at Juneau Douglas High School with a welcome address by Sealaska CEO and President Anthony Mallott and a keynote speech from national education consultant and author Zaretta Hammond...(more) (6-3-17)

Photo essay: SHI's first-ever education conference kicks off

Sealaska Heritage’s first-ever education conference got off to an exciting start on Thursday with keynote speeches and opening remarks from distinguished guest speakers including Ilarion Larry Merculieff, Libby Roderick, and US Senator Lisa Murkowski. The three-day event, called “Our Cultural Landscape,” is being held at the Juneau-Douglas High School through Saturday...( more) (6-2-17)

Chilkat continuum: Juneau weaver hopes art form becomes globally recognized

Tlingit weaver Lily Hope, Sealaska Heritage’s current artist-in-residence, celebrated the completion of her first full-sized Chilkat robe Tuesday afternoon in the clan house at the Walter Soboleff Building with a public event that included singing, dancing, and gift giving...( more) (6-1-17)

Photo Essay: Tlingit Culture, Language & Literacy Program celebrates 5th grade promotion

Harborview Elementary’s Tlingit Culture, Language & Literacy Program (TCLL) held its fifth grade promotion ceremony Thursday at the Walter Soboleff Building, celebrating the event with oratory, singing and dancing...(more) (5-26-17)

Disturbing statements in opinion piece need clarification

By Rosita Worl
President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

In recent days, we have received complaints about an opinion piece published in the Alaska Dispatch News titled “Russian extremists want Alaska back.” The piece, written by Dr. Steve Haycox, professor emeritus of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage, included some statements that appeared to be outrageous mischaracterizations of historical events that involved Alaska Native people.

Upon reading the piece a few times, I surmised he actually was attempting to depict a Russian-centric distortion of history. This was confirmed after I corresponded with him. I had hoped he would print a statement in the paper that clarified his intended meaning with regard to the statements. When he declined to do that, I penned the letter-to-the-editor below, as I was afraid the statements would be interpreted by readers as an accurate reflection of history...(more) (5-25-17)

Lingit, Xaad Kíl and Sm’algyax language teams launch Haa Shuká journey

By Katrina Hotch, SHI Language Project Coordinator

Language teams gathered at Sealaska Heritage Institute April 6-8 for orientation and training to begin their involvement in the Haa Shuká Community Language Learning Project. The Haa Shuká project builds on Sealaska Heritage’s previous Tlingit Mentor-Apprentice Program and has expanded to include Xaad Kíl and Sm’algyax languages...(more) (4-21-17)

Photo essay: a peek into one of SHI's Baby Raven Reads family events

Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, a program that promotes early literacy, language development and school readiness. The program is for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Among other things, events include family events at the Walter Soboleff Building clan house, where families are invited to join us for storytelling, songs, and other cultural activities. Parents and guardians also receive free books through the program. New books published through the program are available online or through the Sealaska Heritage Store on Seward and Front Streets in Juneau at the Walter Soboleff Building or by contacting the store at or 907.586.9114 (more on Baby Raven books). The following shows a family event that focused on SHI’s newly released book, Raven Brings Us Fire. To help bring the story to life and make connections to literature, we acted out a version of the story and invited local firefighters...(more) (3-27-17)

Learning about regional history through Tlingit art

New third grade lesson plan on Tlingit-Russian Battles of Sitka includes study of Tlingit helmets

Third grade students in all six Juneau elementary schools will be broadening their understanding of regional history over the coming weeks through an art-based lesson plan designed to accompany district curriculum. Led by Juneau School District Art Specialist Nancy Lehnhart, the lesson focuses on the Battles of Sitka, fought in 1802 and 1804 between Russian fur traders and the Tlingit Kiks.ádi clan and other clans. The lesson, introduced Monday at Glacier Valley Elementary School, also highlights the artistry of Tlingit warrior helmets, known for their dramatic and intimidating depictions of animals and spirits.

Teachers are breaking new ground by including the Native worldview in their classrooms, said SHI President Rosita...(more) (2-10-17)

Photo essay: a peek into one of SHI’s skin sewing classes

Since time immemorial, our ancestors have lived off of the land—taking trees for dugout canoes and clan houses, roots and bark for baskets and fish and animals for nourishment. And we’ve used skins and furs to make regalia, moccasins and other pieces. In recent years, we were in danger of losing our ancient knowledge on how to sew skins. In response, Sealaska Heritage launched a skin-sewing program through which hundreds of Native people have since learned to make skin clothing and other items.

SHI’s goal is to revitalize skin sewing and to create a cottage industry, especially in rural areas where unemployment is high. Skin sewing can be a financial boon: studies have demonstrated that a single craftsperson can earn up to $35,000 a year sewing and selling products made of sea otter, which has one million hairs per square inch, making it the most luxurious fur in the world.

We have found there is tremendous demand for skin-sewing classes and thought it would be useful for people to see some of the processes and secrets to sewing furs. The following photo essay shows our most recent workshop, which was held in Juneau and taught by Louise Kadinger...( more) (2-6-17)

Rising stars in language revitalization spearhead new language committee

The first meeting of Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Southeast Regional Language Committee began Friday morning with traditional introductions by the committee’s three members: Lance Twitchell, who spoke in Lingít (Tlingit language), Gavin Hudson, who spoke in Sm'algyax (Tsimshian language), and Benjamin Young, who spoke in Xaad Kíl (Haida language).

Hearing the three young men express themselves in Southeast Alaska’s indigenous languages was an uplifting way to begin, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“It is like music to my ears to hear you speak,” Worl said. “It is so wonderful. (Tlingit elders) Dr. Soboleff and Clarence Jackson would be so happy to hear the voices of our ancestors speaking at this time"...( more) (1-20-17)

It's time. Nix Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples Day.

By Rosita Worl
President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

As a child in school, I was taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. As a Tlingit who was raised to know Native people have been here since time immemorial, the curriculum was baffling to say the least. The celebration of Columbus Day is a black mark against Native people who called this land home thousands of years before Columbus’s “discovery.” While we recognize that Christopher Columbus was among the first Europeans to land on the shores of the North American continent, it is time for Alaska to eliminate Columbus Day and recognize the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. It is in that spirit that I submitted testimony today urging the Alaska Legislature to pass HB 78, which would officially establish the second Monday of October of each year as Indigenous Peoples Day...(more) (1-25-17)

Elder reveals the history, knowledge embedded in Tlingit place names

Students from Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School were given an opportunity to learn about traditional Tlingit place names Friday morning at the Walter Soboleff Building as part of Sealaska Heritage’s Telling Our Stories: Voices on the Land program. As Tlingit elder David Katzeek shared his knowledge of place names, he helped students understand what those names can reveal about history, about natural resources, and about the deep connections that exist between the Tlingit people and the lands where they have lived for thousands of years.

Katzeek began with familiar names such as Dzantik’i Héeni and T’aaḵú, both of which point toward the resources that were abundant in those areas. Katzeek translated Dzantik’i Héeni as “precious water for the starry flounder.” Starry flounders weighing between 5 and 20 pounds were once abundant in Gold Creek, Katzeek said, noting that the name refers not only to the creek but to the whole area...( more) (1-13-17)

SHI, UAS weaving language and culture training into public schools

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the University of Alaska Southeast’s PITAAS (Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools) program co-hosted a series of presentations for UAS faculty at the Walter Soboleff Building Thursday as part of an ongoing partnership designed to provide cultural training for Alaska teachers.

Thunder Mountain principal Dan Larson, assistant principal Rhonda Hickok, teacher Annie Janes, and Alaska Native Student Success Coordinator Barbara Cadiente Nelson spoke about Alaska Native student success at TMHS, and Lori Grassgreen, director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, gave a talk on the impact of educational climate and connectedness on student performance...(more) (1-13-16)

A win for Alaska's School of Education at UAS

By Rosita Worl
President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

On Dec. 14, the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted unanimously to keep the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education at that campus, rather than moving it to Fairbanks. The move came after UA President Jim Johnsen amended his recommendation during a special Board of Regents meeting Wednesday morning. His original recommendation was for University of Alaska Fairbanks to be the administrative head of a single college of education.

I am grateful to the Board of Regents and President Johnson for reassessing the issue and making the right decision in the best interest of the State that will serve generations to come. Our greatest resources lie within our youth and the Regents and President have now assured that they will receive the best education with home-grown teachers.  I am also very proud of the way our community came together to support our educational needs. The avalanche of opposition to the Fairbanks move in the end triggered the amendment to keep the school at UAS...(more) (12-18-16)

Mentor-apprentice program wraps up

Participants in SHI’s Tlingit language mentor-apprentice program met Saturday at the Walter Soboleff Building to close out the project and assess its success at the end of its three-year term. The program, funded through an Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant that ends December 30, has paired fluent Tlingit speakers with advanced language students to accelerate their progress. Through the project, mentor-apprentice teams from Juneau, Sitka and Yakutat engaged in 260 hours of one-on-one language immersion and participated in annual Tlingit immersion retreats that rotated between participating partner communities.

Language teams included mentor Ethel Makinen and apprentice Jamie Bradley, Anne Johnson and Duane Lindoff, Lena Farkas and Devlin Anderstrom, Selena Everson and Jessica Chester, Florence Sheakley and Hans Chester, Paul Marks and Ishmael Hope, and David Katzeek and Joshua Jackson. Community liaisons and facilitators were Marsha Hotch in Juneau, Heather Powell in Sitka, and Amanda Porter and Gloria Wolfe in Yakutat...(more) (12-15-16)

Tlingit weaver Clarissa Rizal passes away

The world has lost another luminary. It is with great sadness that we note the passing of the renowned Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal, a Raven of the T’akdeintaan (black-legged Kittywake) Clan.

Not so long ago, we were in danger of losing the knowledge on how to make our sacred Chilkat weavings. We as Native people owe a debt of gratitude to Clarissa for mastering our sacred art traditions and for teaching others to weave. Clarissa trained under the late master weaver Jennie Thlunaut, and Clarissa has said that she made a promise to Jennie at that time: She would help revive Chilkat weaving through workshops and apprenticeships. It was a promise Clarissa kept...( more) (12-7-16)

The Way of the Warrior

The fourth lecture in Sealaska Heritage’s Native Heritage Month Lecture Series was led by Kai Monture of Yakutat, who spoke Tuesday about traditional warrior training as he learned of it in his clan, K'ineix Kwáan. Dressed in his own leather and slat armor, Monture began by singing an Honor Song as a way to acknowledge the contributions of Tlingit warriors past and present. Throughout his 90-minute talk, Monture emphasized that the warrior training he described was based on his own experience, as he was taught by his grandfather, George Ramos, and by his uncle and other Elders.

Monture described the training process for boys beginning at age 6, overseen by their maternal uncles. The training was harsh, and included going into the water every morning regardless of the season, fierce competition with other boys, and weapons training. However, warrior training was never limited to the physical realm, Monture said...( more) (11-29-16)

Alaska Native veterans speak out at SHI lecture

Sealaska Heritage Institute hosted a panel of Alaska Native veterans at an event held as part of Native American Heritage Month, on the eve of Veterans Day. Panelists Fred Bennett, Donald See, Royal Hill, Warren Sheakley, George Lindoff and James Lindoff spoke about their experiences during and after the Vietnam War, following a showing of the documentary “Hunting in Wartime.” The film, made by Samantha Farinella, features interviews with the men, who all served in Vietnam and who all came from Hoonah. “We weren’t the same people when we came home – and we’re still not the same,” said veteran and panelist Fred Bennett. “It took a long time to get where we are today, to where we can talk about it – and we’re real careful when we do.” The veterans spoke of the harsh treatment they received on returning to the United States after serving in the brutal conflict, of keeping quiet about their service, and of the devastating media stereotypes perpetuated about Vietnam veterans. The panel was hosted by Southeast Alaska Native Veterans Commander Ozzie Sheakley...(more) (11-10-16)