Sealaska Heritage to unveil virtual version of exhibit

Sealaska Heritage to unveil virtual version of exhibit

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: June 2nd, 2021

Site to go live to the public during First Friday

June 2, 2021

(About the Exhibit)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will unveil an online version of one of its exhibits this week during First Friday in an effort to open the space to people worldwide.

The site will offer visitors a free tour of SHI’s exhibit War and Peace, which explores traditional Tlingit laws, the consequences for breaking them and the complex peace ceremonies that ended conflicts and restored balance. The exhibit closed in 2021 due to the pandemic and was reinvented as a virtual platform as a way to open the exhibit to everyone in a captivating way.

SHI previously released a virtual version of the exhibit, which allowed visitors to view the displays as if they were in the room. The new online version allows people to see each object closely and to view associated panels and photographs. The new site is also meant to be an educational tool for teachers to give lessons on Tlingit history, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“It is more like a publication with labels and text formatted to a high degree, and it includes links to video that was not available in previous versions. Also, the warrior figure can be rotated 360 degrees,” Worl said.

Another new addition in the exhibit tells the story of the first murders in Juneau and, as a result, why the Kaagwaantaan built the Eagle Nest House and Box House in the Áak’w Kwáan village.

The site will go live at 4:30 Alaska time on Friday, June 4, and the link will be available on SHI’s homepage at The Sealaska Heritage Store will also be open from 11 am-7 pm. 

With COVID impacts diminishing in Juneau, SHI is currently in the planning stage of re-opening its exhibit space and clan house. The institute will make an announcement in the next few weeks. 

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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