Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on Tlingit interactions with Europeans, Americans in the 18th century

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Free event to be offered in-person, virtually

Oct. 28, 2019

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on Tlingit interactions with Europeans and
Americans in the 18th century as part of a series on Southeast Alaska Native history in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

The talk, Tlingit Society and the Crucible of Contact, 1741-1867, will be given by Stephen Langdon, Ph.D., professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage where he taught for 38 years.

In the 18th century, Tlingit people began interactions with Europeans and Americans from distant lands with whom they had no previous contact or knowledge.  These contacts brought new materials and technologies, deadly diseases, and threats to the hegemony of Tlingit control of the region. 

While Spanish, British, French, and American vessels interacted with the Tlingit at various times and locations for exploration and trade, the Russians under Baranov were allowed to establish settlements at Sitka, Yakutat, and Wrangell.  Throughout the period, the Tlingit asserted their resource and property rights and protected their claims through a variety of trade and diplomatic and violent actions.  In the 1860s, a Russian official described the Tlingit as “unchanged” and “uncivilized.” 

The talk will conclude with a discussion of how Tlingit society maintained its essential character through this crucible of contact.

The lecture is scheduled at noon Alaska time, Tuesday, Nov. 2. All lectures will be livestreamed at 12 pm AKST to the Sealaska Heritage YouTube channel. Some of the talks will also be presented in person in SHI’s clan house to attendees who show proof of vaccination cards. Space is limited to half capacity of SHI’s clan house because of COVID-19 concerns. A Q&A session will follow each lecture.

About the Lecturer

Dr. Langdon has conducted research projects on many public policy issues impacting Alaska Natives over his 45-year career. He has advocated for policies that enhance and promote rural Alaska Native communities and their cultures in such areas as fisheries, lands, tribal government, cultural heritage, customary trade, and co-management.  Dr. Langdon has specialized in research on the history and culture of the Tlingit and Haida peoples of Southeast Alaska from precontact conditions through the historic period of 19th and early 20th century US governance. He has conducted extensive research on traditional ecological knowledge and uses of salmon by the Tlingit and Haida demonstrating the complex and rich relations between the people and salmon that sustained their cultures for centuries. His book The Native People of Alaska is a widely used introduction to Alaska Native people. 

The Alaska Native Brotherhood selected him to give the keynote address to their 100th convention in 2012. He has received the Bullock Prize from the University of Alaska Foundation for career excellence in contributions to Alaska, and the Denali Award from the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) for his contributions to Alaska Native life; this is the highest award given by AFN to a non-Native person.


This program 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: Kathy Dye, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,