Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Education conference to feature powerhouse keynotes, impressive presenters' roster

<<back to news page


Registration open

May 2, 2023

(Keynote Bios) (Register) (Conference Website)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has enlisted renowned, nationally-known educators to give keynote addresses at its sixth Culturally Responsive Education Conference for teachers and administrators, which is part of a larger effort to promote culturally responsive pedagogy in schools.

The event, Our Cultural Landscape, has drawn some of the best professionals in the field, including the award-winning, best-selling author Monique Gray-Smith; Angela Lunda, Ph.D., co-principal investigator on the Molly Community Science Project; and longtime educator Panigkaq Agatha John-Shields, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage for Indigenizing Education at the School of Education.

The theme of this year’s event is Latseen Káx̱ Yéi Atdaané — Gathering for Strength. The conference will offer breakout sessions on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Gathering for professional growth
  • Gathering for well-being
  • Gathering for wisdom
  • Gathering from the land

The conference is scheduled June 13-15. Educators may register to attend now. There is no cost to register for virtual or in-person components.

Educators, administrators, university faculty and community members are all welcome and encouraged to attend. Attendees will find engaging and informative sessions to support their thinking around culturally-responsive and sustaining pedagogies for K-12 and university settings, critical theory, place-based education, possibilities for indigenizing curriculum and building safe social environments for all learners.

Keynote Bios

Monique Gray-Smith is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her books cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics and emotions. Woven into all of Gray-Smith’s writing, speaking engagements and online courses is the teaching that Love is Medicine. In September 2022, she released her 4th children’s picture book, I Hope with Orca Book Publishers. Her focus has been weaving history, resilience and trauma informed training for educators, social workers, librarians and early childhood teams. She is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC and is the elected President of the Board of Directors for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

Koogak’aax (Angela Lunda), Ph.D. is a life-long Alaskan of the Tlingít tribe, Ch’aak (Eagle) moiety, Kaagwaantaan (Wolf) clan, and the Sitka Déix X’awool’ja Hít (Two-Door House) with more than three decades as a teacher and administrator. She is passionate about equity in education and ensuring that all students receive a quality education in a culturally safe and nurturing environment. Lunda’s research interest centers on the cultural identity development (CID) of young Indigenous Alaskan children and the ways that schools and communities support healthy CID. Lunda is co-Principal Investigator on a multi-year National Science Foundation-funded grant, the Molly Community Science Project, a collaborative grant between GBH-Boston, the producers of the popular Molly of Denali children’s television program, South Dakota State University, and the University of Alaska Southeast.

Panigkaq Agatha John-Shields, Ph.D., is the daughter of the late Dr. Chief Kangrilnguq Paul and Anguyaluk Martina John from the Yup'ik village of Toksook Bay, Alaska, where she was raised traditionally by many elder mentors. John-Shields was an educator for 17 years at the Lower Kuskokwim School District where she served as an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher for Yup’ik students at Kilbuck Elementary School, and at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik Immersion Charter School as an immersion teacher, material developer and a principal. She currently is an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage for Indigenizing Education at the School of Education. Her professional passion is to teach through the lens of personal stories and experiences integrating Indigenous education and culturally responsive teaching and learning.

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,

Caption: SHI’s 2022 education conference. Photo by Stacy Unzicker, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Note: Media outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher resolution file, contact