WHO WE ARE
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. Sealaska Heritage also conducts 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.
We offer numerous programs promoting Southeast Alaskan Native culture, including language and art. We maintain a substantial archive of Southeast Alaskan Native ethnographic material. We partner with local schools to promote academics and cultural education. Biennially, we produce Celebration, Alaska’s second-largest Native gathering. We own and operate the Sealaska Heritage Store and curate an ongoing cultural exhibit on the first floor of our headquarters in Juneau’s landmark Walter Soboleff Building.
Sealaska Heritage was founded in 1980 by Sealaska after being conceived by clan leaders, traditional scholars and elders at the first Sealaska Elders Conference. During that meeting, the Elders likened Native culture to a blanket. They told the new leaders that their hands were growing weary of holding onto the metaphorical blanket, this “container of wisdom.” They said they were transferring this responsibility to Sealaska, the regional Native corporation serving Southeast Alaska. In response, Sealaska founded Sealaska Heritage to operate cultural and educational programs. The late George Davis (Kichnáalx—Lk’aanaaw) of Angoon spoke these memorable words:
“We don’t want what you did here to only echo in the air, how our grandfathers used to do things… Yes. You have unwrapped it for us. That is why we will open again this container of wisdom left in our care.”
Sealaska Heritage is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars and a Native Artist Committee.
NEWSLETTERS, BRIEFS & UPDATES
SHI releases video series on how to make traditional halibut hooks
Tutorials available for free on YouTube July 19, 2021 (Watch) (About Halibut Hooks) Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has produced and put online a video series that teaches how to make traditional northern Northwest Coast halibut hooks, known as náxw in Tlingit. The series, led by Tlingit artist Héendei Donald Gregory, includes 21 videos ranging from 2-17 [...]
Virtual education conference keynotes to include nationally-known scholars
Registration now open July 15, 2021 (Keynote Bios) (Register) (Conference Website) (Flyer) Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has enlisted renowned, nationally-known educators to give keynote addresses at its fourth Culturally Responsive Education Conference for teachers and administrators, which is part of a larger effort to promote culturally responsive pedagogy in schools. For the second time, the three-day [...]
Seattle man donates old spruce-root basket to Sealaska Heritage
Piece dates back more than 100 years July 14, 2021 (About Spruce-Root Basketry) A Seattle man has donated an exquisite spruce-root basket to Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) that dates back more than 100 years. Donor Richard Zahniser, now in his 90s, purchased the piece in Southeast Alaska or Anchorage in the 1970s and decided to donate [...]
SEALASKA HERITAGE DIGITIZES, POSTS CELEBRATION 1986
July 12, 2021 (About Celebration) (Watch) Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has digitized and posted online video of its third Celebration, a dance-and-culture festival first held in 1982 that has grown into the world’s largest gathering of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The entire event, which was documented in 1986 on now-obsolete video tapes, is viewable on SHI’s [...]
SHI to sponsor visiting scholar studying pressures on Southeast Alaska Native art market
People interested in participating encouraged to reach out July 8, 2021 Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is sponsoring a visiting scholar who is studying how Southeast Alaska Native artists sustain their ancient art practices in light of current economic, legal and environmental pressures. Scholar Ben Bridges, who is pursuing dual Ph.D. in folklore and anthropology, will conduct [...]
USPS to hold ceremony for release of Tlingit stamp
Raven Story stamp now available through pre-sale July 6, 2021 (About the Stamp) (About the Artist) (Pre-Sale) The U.S. Postal Service this month, assisted by Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), will hold a release ceremony for the “Raven Story” stamp, which was designed by Tlingit artist by Rico Lanáat’ Worl of Juneau and unveiled in November. Antonio [...]