Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture about the late Tlingit leader William L. Paul, Sr.

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Free event to be offered virtually, in-person on Nov. 16

Nov. 12, 2021

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on Tuesday on the late Tlingit leader William Lewis Paul, Sr., (Shquindy) as part of a series on Southeast Alaska Native history in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

The talk, In His Own Words, a Biography of William Lewis Paul, will be given by Benjamin Starr Paul (Ku-nuX-nuhsti), who is Tlingit of the Teeyhíttaan, Raven clan and the grandson of William L. Paul, who was Teeyhíttaan, Raven.

In his talk, Ben Paul will trace the life of William L. Paul from his early childhood with his mother, Tillie Paul, at Sheldon Jackson School to his death in Seattle on March 4, 1977. Using the speech William L. Paul gave at his honorary doctorate ceremony at Whitworth University in 1972 as a guide  (audio will be played), Ben will give special attention to the spiritual and religious life of his grandfather, also known as the father of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.  

William L. Paul’s contributions to Native people and land claims are considered so significant, SHI named its archives facility in his honor in 2014.

“William L. Paul, Sr., set the course for the resolution of Alaska Native aboriginal land claims and worked tirelessly throughout his lifetime to protect the ownership of Haa Aaní (Our Land),” SHI President Rosita Worl said at the time. “He is a hero to past, present and future Alaska Natives, and we are forever indebted to him.”

The lecture is scheduled at noon Alaska time, Tuesday, Nov. 16. All lectures will be streamed at 12 pm to the Sealaska Heritage YouTube channel. This talk 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.

About the Lecturer

Ben began his study of Paul family history after receiving his Tlingit name at a naming ceremony in Seattle 1995. Working mostly with his aunt, Frances Paul DeGermain, he began studying the sizable Paul archives, which include thousands of photos, drawings, books, Alaska Native Brotherhood minutes, court cases, personal letters and albums collected by William Lewis Paul; his wife Frances Lackey Paul; his sons, William Paul Jr and Fred Paul; and Tillie Paul Tamaree, William’s mother.

Ben and his aunt Frances published two books from the Paul Archives: Then Fight For It by Fred Paul, the attorney for the North Slope Natives during the Alaska Native Land Claims Act era, and The Alaska Tlingit, Where Did We Come From by William Lewis Paul.

Ben has presented at four Sharing Our Knowledge conferences on the history of the Teehiton Raven hat and a history of Tillie Paul Tamaree.

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,