NEWS_SHI, UAS ink new agreement to offer Native language instruction

NEWS_SHI, UAS ink new agreement to offer Native language instruction

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

Initiative to offer full scholarship to UAS for language students

March 11, 2020

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Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) have signed a new memorandum of agreement to further the education of Native language scholars in an effort to revitalize and perpetuate Tlingit (Lingít), Haida (Xaad Kíl) and Tsimshian (Sm’algyax).

Through the agreement, SHI and UAS will offer an immersive language program for 16 scholars across Southeast Alaska who plan to teach their language. Students will receive a full scholarship to UAS that includes tuition, room, board and other expenses plus part-time employment that provides additional language opportunities. The program will include annual summer language institutes open to language scholars, UAS students, professors and community members.

Participants may earn a Type M Certificate through the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development or work toward a bachelor’s degree.

The program is largely supported through nearly $1.9 million in funding over three years secured by SHI. Language revitalization has been a priority of SHI’s board of trustees since the 1990s, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“We’ve made a lot of progress since we began focusing on language revitalization,” Worl said, noting the numerous language instructors now teaching in public schools across the region. “However, we must provide these immersive habitats to ensure that we grow the number of teachers and perpetuate our languages, which are the foundation of our culture.”

The agreement also specifies that students and professors will have access to SHI’s ethnographic and art collections, and that scholars will be provided space at the institute to study its archival language recordings and other language resources. New and current UAS students are welcome.

The initiative is one of several education programs at UAS that SHI is helping to fund. Since 2012, SHI has contributed $4.4 million to UAS for programming.

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 Media Specialist, 907.321.4636,

Caption: Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Back row: UAS Provost Dr. Karen Carey, SHI staff  Susie Edwardson, Nicole George, Leah Urbanski and Jill Meserve. Front row: Thomas Thornton, dean of arts and sciences, vice provost for research and sponsored programs at UAS; UAS Chancellor Richard Caulfield; SHI President Rosita Worl; and Ronalda Cadiente-Brown, associate vice chancellor for Alaska Native programs and director of PITAAS at UAS. Photos by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. For a high-res image, contact

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