Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Native food contest winners announced

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June 9, 2022

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has announced the winners of its popular traditional food contests, held as part of Celebration 2022. The winners are as follows:

Back Seaweed Contest

  • Mike Allard, first place
  • Theresa Wellington, second place
  • Christina Weber, third place

Dry Fish

  • Donna James, first place
  • Kenneth Willard Jr., second place
  • Mike Allard, third place

Seal Oil

  • Sharon Olsen, first place
  • Sally Joseph, second place
  • Diane Carrier, third place

Olsen says the secret to good seal oil is that she’s tender, patient and picky about her craft, and she is careful to ensure that no blood, hair or fat remain in her prize-winning oil.

“I know I’ve been successful when I can see clearly through the jar,” she said.

Allard said he learned how to prepare black seaweed from his parents and that he made small adjustments.

“My motto is ‘dry with love,” he said.

Winners were announced onstage at Centennial Hall on Thursday afternoon. The institute sponsors the contests to introduce young people to traditional Native foods and to highlight the health benefits of traditional Native cuisine. Names of contestants were kept secret from the judges prior to the judging.

Celebration is a major, four-day event organized by Sealaska Heritage every two years. First held in 1982, it has become the one of the largest events in the state, drawing thousands of people to the capital.

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 Media and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,

Caption: Awards ceremony for SHI’s Native food contests, held during Celebration 2022. Photo by Stacy Unzicker, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Note: News outlets are welcome to use these images for coverage of this story. For higher resolution images, contact