NEWS_Sealaska Heritage to unveil first virtual 3-D exhibit

NEWS_Sealaska Heritage to unveil first virtual 3-D exhibit

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Site to go live during Gallery Walk

Dec. 2, 2020

(About the Exhibit)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will unveil its first-ever virtual 3-D exhibit this Friday during Gallery Walk in an effort to open the space to people worldwide during the pandemic.

The site will offer visitors a free tour of SHI’s exhibit War and Peace, which closed in April due to the pandemic and was reinvented as a virtual platform for the first Friday of December. The technology is allowing SHI to open the exhibit to everyone in a captivating way.

SHI tapped state-of-the-art technology to allow visitors to virtually roam through the exhibit, which explores traditional Tlingit laws, the consequences for breaking them and the complex peace ceremonies that ended conflicts and restored balance.

“This is not a flat environment where visitors simply click on images. You literally feel as if you are inside our exhibit space having an immersive experience,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “I am astonished by how far this technology has come in a short period of time, and we anticipate doing more of these to expose people worldwide to Native cultures.”

The site allows users to navigate by dragging on the screen or by clicking arrows. It includes icons that when clicked bring up detailed photos of the objects and “i” icons that unveil information on the pieces. The virtual exhibit, which was designed by SHI’s Kai Monture, will be viewable on desktop and mobile devices.

The site will go live at 4:30 Alaska time on Friday, Dec. 4, at  

SHI will also host a live Facebook talk with author, editor and playwright Vera Starbard and Ed Littlefield, an educator and composer, who’ll talk about Perseverance Theatre’s A Tlingit Christmas Carol and being a playwright, among other things. Starbard will also make a surprise announcement! That segment is scheduled at 5 pm, Friday, at  

About the Exhibit

The display delves into the application of Tlingit laws, traditional dispute resolution processes, and the consequences of failing to atone for infractions. When laws were broken, and if conflicts were not resolved to restore peace, the consequence would be war.

“The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian have been widely described as warriors and warring societies, but less known is the existence of Tlingit law and the traditional mechanisms for resolving conflicts and disputes,” Worl said. “This exhibit attempts to bring these complex and oppositional topics to the public.”

The exhibit also tells of the interactions between Tlingit communities and the American military, which in the 19th century often resulted in conflicts because the Tlingit followed their own legal processes.  Bombardments of communities, or confiscation of personal and military prerogatives by the Tlingit, were often the consequences of such interactions.

The display shows the armor and helmets worn by warriors that protected them from daggers, spears and arrows. It also explores the famous battles between the Tlingit and Russians in 1802 and 1804 and the Treaty of Cession, through which the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. One panel explains that the Tlingit considered going to war over the treaty as they considered the transaction illegal because the Tlingit owned the land.

The exhibit includes imagery of Northern Lights because the aurora borealis are thought to be the spirits of warriors racing across the skies.

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: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,


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