Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to kick off fifth Culturally Responsive Education Conference next week


Registration for online participation still open

Aug. 1, 2022

(Register) (Keynote Speakers) (Breakout Sessions) (Conference Website)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will kick off its fifth annual culturally responsive education conference next week and welcome more than 650 in-person and online participants from Alaska, the Lower 48 and as far away as Australia.

The conference will feature two keynote speakers, 60 breakout sessions and 9 immersive learning workshops. The goal of the conference is to provide a deep understanding of culturally responsive, place-based education and to equip educators and school administrators with the skills needed to reach all students, especially those who have been historically underserved, disenfranchised and marginalized. The 2022 theme is Haa Ḵusteeyí Yatsáakw: Our Way of Life Persists.

About 550 in-person and more than 100 online participants are expected, making it the largest cultural conference SHI has ever organized.

“We are thrilled to see the momentum and popularity this program has gained with teachers and the education community. Our evaluations have shown the conference has had a profound impact on our participants,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “We are also indebted to the educators who have taken time to get a deeper understanding of the Native world view so they can better serve Indigenous students.”

Space is filling up for in-person participants, but educators who cannot attend are welcome to register as online participants for some of the events.

The in-person component is scheduled Aug. 11-13 at Juneau-Douglas High School. 

Keynote Speakers

The conference will feature two keynote speakers.

Dr. Dolly Garza, who earned her Ph.D. in marine policy and is the author of Common Edible Seaweeds of the Gulf of Alaska, will provide a review of gathering traditional foods and materials and a glimpse into the lessons that are learned through participation in these activities. She will build on our understanding that science and culture are intertwined as we learn when and where and why we gather foods and material throughout the year. Garza, who is Haida from Ketchikan, is a retired professor from the University of Alaska. She is now a full-time artist and is well-known for her weaving. She continues to teach seaweed identification and sustainable harvesting workshops.

Dr. Matthew Wappett, who is a researcher, a writer, and an educator in stress management, leadership and inclusion, will review the most recent science on the physical, psychological, and social impacts of chronic stress and will introduce participants to the science of laughter. This presentation will help participants understand the correlation between stress and mental health and will provide a brief overview of why poor mental health is the next epidemic. Participants will engage in a short laughter "practice" and Dr. Wappett will provide several simple self-care strategies that participants can use to manage stress and promote mental health in their personal lives and in the classroom. Dr. Wappett is the executive director of the Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice at Utah State University. Matt grew up living a semi-subsistence lifestyle and dip netted for salmon on the Copper River every summer and went moose and caribou hunting every fall to ensure that his family had meat for the winter. Matt’s family still runs a set-net operation for salmon in Bristol Bay every summer. His family is also deeply involved in dog mushing in Fairbanks, and his nieces and nephews have competed in the Willow Jr 100 and the Jr. Iditarod.

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,