NEWS_SHI to sponsor lectures, events for Native American Heritage Month

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lectures, events for Native American Heritage Month

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

Free events to be offered virtually

Oct. 22, 2020


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor the following lectures and special event in honor of Native American Heritage Month and Walter Soboleff Day. 

All lectures will be live streamed on SHI’s YouTube channel at noon. The series, which focuses on citizens and shareholders in Alaska Native corporations and tribes, is also offered as part of a one-credit course through the University of Alaska Southeast.

Tuesday, Nov. 10

  • Lecture: ANCSA and the Alaska Native Federally Recognized Tribes and Their Respective Constitutional Relationships With Congress by Chris McNeil, the owner of Native Strategy Group and former president and CEO of Sealaska. The recent federal lawsuit, Chehalis v Mnuchin, between certain federally recognized tribes and ANCSA corporations concerning whether an ANCSA corporation is an “Indian Tribe” under the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act of 1975 has highlighted the question of the nature of the relationship between ANCSA corporations and Congress. The immediate consequence is whether the ANCSA village and regional corporations will be able to share in funding authorized by Title V of the CARES act. These funds are intended to help Alaska Natives and Indians deal with the many negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, an additional threat to the ANCSA corporations is whether they will continue to participate in more than 60 federal Indian programs of general applicability.  This includes the 8(a) federal contracting programs that have fueled so much economic growth in Alaska. This presentation will examine the concept that both the Alaska Native tribes organized under the 1936 IRA Amendments and the ANCSA corporations each independently share a relationship with the Congress as Indian tribes under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Thursday, Nov. 12

  • Lecture: Values, Tenure, and Organization: Critical Dimensions of Sustainable Development in Indigenous Southeast Alaska 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. Values, tenure, and organization are highly evolved tools for achieving sustainable development in complex and changing social-ecological systems. However, for sustainability success they must be productively aligned.  This is well illustrated by the development of the Indigenous values, tenure, and organization at the regional intra- and intertribal scales in greater Southeast Alaska, wherein a complex socio-political organization developed over thousands of years to sustain balanced use of the rich but dynamic and “patchy” Pacific coastal waters and temperate rainforest. Native cultural values and institutions were severely disrupted and subordinated with colonization, however, and then only partially realigned with the progressive, hybrid neo-institutionalism of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Indian Reorganization Act, and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act eras.  New institutions have been created without full consideration of alignment, resulting in a crowded “institutional ecosystem” in which a 21st century sovereignty for sustainability is being played out.  In this presentation, Thornton will look at some prospects for alignment of values, tenure, and organization in the context of sustainable livelihoods.

Friday, Nov. 13

  • Lecture: A Review of Tribal Governments by Dr. Edward Thomas, president emeritus of Tlingit Haida Central Council. In this presentation, Thomas will discuss the progression of tribal government over time, tribal relationship to tribal territories, relationship to other governments, and importance of governance to tribal citizens. He will talk about the definition of inherent sovereignty, laws that tribes had developed over time, how those laws were ratified, and the importance of governance in early times as well as how laws were enforced. He will also discuss how tribes begin the process of adopting “non-traditional” governing practices. Many tribes have totally adopted the “Western” ways and mechanisms of government. Documentation and maintenance of citizenship enrollment and all other official tribal documents are of utmost importance. Separation of the political branch from the judiciary and administrative branches of government has become increasingly important.

Saturday, Nov. 14

  • Walter Soboleff Day: A Virtual Retrospective in Honor of Dr. Walter Soboleff.  

Tuesday, Nov. 17

  • Lecture: The Federal Indian Law Legal Framework for Native Nations in the Lower 48 States by Walter Echo-Hawk, an author, attorney and legal scholar. There are several legal frameworks in the United States that establish the rights, relationships, and responsibilities between Indigenous Peoples, the States, and the federal government. Echo-Hawk will address the federal Indian law framework applicable to American Indian Nations in the Lower 48. He will lay out the foundational principles of that framework, together with its strengths and weaknesses, and the challenges of this generation to reform and strengthen federal Indian law and policy in the 21st century.

Thursday, Nov. 19

  • Lecture: The Paradigm of Tribal Membership based on Blood Quantum Should Be Changed to a Paradigm of Tribal Citizenship by Chippewa Cree Tribal Nation citizen Alan Parker, the former director of the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute at The Evergreen State College. The US Congress imposed a criterium based on “degree of blood” or blood quantum to determine who would be eligible for membership in a tribe in the General Allotment Act of 1887. Although the goal of Congress was to civilize the Indian by giving them the chance to learn how to be farmers, the result of Allotment was that over 160 million acres of Indian land was lost to non-Indian homesteaders and railroad companies. By 1937, the BIA proposed that the criteria for membership in the tribe should be based on degree of tribal blood and residency on the reservation. Ninety years after the IRA model tribal constitution with its 1/4th degree blood quantum and “residents-only” rule was imposed upon Indians in the US, we have witnessed four generations of inter-tribal marriages and marriages between Indians and non-Indians.

Friday, Nov. 20

  • Lecture: The Great Vanishing Act:  Blood and the Future of Native Nations by Norbert Hill Jr. of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Hill was the executive director of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the American Indian Graduate Center. Blood quantum, imposed from within and without, has shaped Native identity and has been the primary determinant in deciding “who is an Indian” for more than a century. The conversation about Native identity—sometimes civil, sometimes violent—has been going on in Indian Country far longer than that. This will continue whether blood quantum laws are changed or not. We are living in challenging circumstances when it comes to navigating what it means to be Native.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

  • Lecture: Native Americans/Alaska Natives: Racial Crises and Racial Equity by Michael Roberts, who is Tlingit and has served as president of the First Nations Development Institute and previously served as chief operating officer for the organization. BIPOC: the acronym stands for “Black, Indigenous and people of color.” The most significant part of the acronym for Native communities is the inclusion of Indigenous people, who are often conveniently forgotten in discussions where race is mentioned.  Reclaiming Native Truth is a national effort to foster cultural, social, and policy change by empowering Native Americans to counter discrimination, invisibility, and the dominant narratives that limit Native opportunity, access to justice, health, and self-determination. Reclaiming Native Truth’s goal is to move hearts and minds toward greater respect, inclusion, and social justice for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

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,


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