NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on herring egg distribution in Alaska

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on herring egg distribution in Alaska

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

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Event free, open to the public

Nov. 22, 2019


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on herring—a cultural keystone species to Native peoples of Southeast Alaska—and the distribution of herring roe in the state.

The lecture, Herring Egg Distribution in Alaska: Generosity, Reciprocity, and Benefit Flows, will be given by Thomas Thornton, dean of arts and sciences and vice-provost of research and sponsored programs at the University of Alaska Southeast and affiliate professor at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

Herring eggs are the preeminent distributed resource in Southeast Alaska’s subsistence economy, with more than 85 percent of harvested eggs from Sitka Sound shared, bartered or traded around Alaska and beyond. This talk explores the sociocultural basis for this unique distribution economy by tracing the multiple benefit flows that accompany herring egg distribution.

The topic is extensively covered in SHI’s new book The Distribution of Subsistence Herring Eggs from Sitka Sound, Alaska, authored by Thornton. In the book, Thornton recommends major changes to the way the State of Alaska manages the sac roe herring fishery in Sitka Sound and predicts dire outcomes for the ancient subsistence herring roe fishery located there, which supports people across the state and Pacific Northwest, if things do not change.

SHI is taking preorders for the book, which will be available through the Sealaska Heritage Store. To preorder, contact

The lecture is scheduled from noon-1 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Sealaska Heritage’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lecture will be videotaped and put online shortly after the talk.

This program is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program.

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,

Photo: Child holding herring eggs on boughs by Bethany Goodrich, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. For a high resolution image, contact

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