SHI TO SPONSOR SCREENING OF NEW FILM ON ALASKA’S HERRING FISHERY
Free event to be offered virtually
Feb. 26, 2021
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will host a free, online screening of its new video Gáax’w ka Haaw (Herring Eggs and Branches). The film was made in collaboration with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Since time immemorial, the people of Southeast Alaska have harvested herring eggs by placing hemlock branches in herring spawn. But today, this vital, traditional food is endangered by commercial fishing pressure.
The film serves as both a vignette of the 2019 spring harvest efforts and a portrayal of the tension the Indigenous people of Sitka, Alaska, and beyond are feeling as their traditional food faces an uncertain future, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
“Through the film, we follow subsistence roe harvesters often searching in vain for herring eggs in Sitka Sound, where they once abounded. We in the Native community have said for many years that our herring runs are in trouble, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears, even as we’ve witnessed once-strong herring runs disappear,” Worl said.
Sitka Sound is the last stronghold in the region for this keystone species and foundation forage fish for salmon, sea mammals and other fish and wildlife in the marine food web.
The film will be introduced by Mike Miller, a long-time herring-egg harvester and a council member of Sitka Tribe of Alaska, which has filed a lawsuit against the state of Alaska for mismanagement of the herring fishery.
The screening is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, at noon Alaska time on SHI’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/c/SealaskaHeritageInstitute. A question-and-answer session with Miller will follow the premiere of the film.
The 35-minute video was made in collaboration with filmmaker Ellie Schmidt.
This event is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.
CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116, firstname.lastname@example.org.