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Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture by a Tlingit leader on the recent raising of the Sukteeneidí totem pole in Craig, as part of its fall lecture series.
In his lecture, Sukteeneidí Clan Origin & Totem Pole, Ed Thomas, president emeritus of the Tlingit Haida Central Council, will contextualize the practice by which clans became organized into a system, adopted the names of natural resources, developed “logos” and incorporated these ideas and images into clan identity.
The traditional homeland of the Sukteeneidí people, who are Raven from the Dog Salmon clan, is in Tebenkoff Bay on Kuiu Island near Kake in central Southeast Alaska. The pole raised in Craig by the Sukteeneidí clan on Sept. 17, 2022, was an honor pole, which calls on the ancestors to pay tribute to those laid to rest in the Craig Memorial Cemetery and provide comfort to their families.
An ancient spirit dance complemented the Sukteeneidí dedication ceremony and served as an event to adopt people into the clan. Dog Salmon names were then given to those adopted and those born into the clan who had not yet had the opportunity to receive a Tlingit name.
Thomas was born and raised in Craig, Alaska, where he graduated from high school in 1960. He began his college education at Sheldon Jackson College earning his Associate in Science degree and then went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In 1974, he accepted a fellowship from Pennsylvania State University where he earned his master’s in education administration.
Thomas began his 25-year commercial fishing career as a cook at the age of 13 on the FV Verness of Klawock. He would go on to skipper a seine boat and later a power troller; he currently owns a hand troller permit.
Thomas taught junior high school and coached the boy’s junior high basketball team in Klawock, Alaska, for a year. He was a high school counselor and coached the boy’s junior high basketball team in Craig, Alaska, and served as the Indian Studies student counselor for the Sitka School District. He also served as the executive director of the Indian Education Program in Ketchikan for nine years.
Thomas has been the president emeritus of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit Haida Central Council) since April 2008. He served as president of the tribe from October 1984 until April 2007, was re-elected in 2010 and officially retired in 2014. He served on the Sealaska Corporation board of directors from 1993 to 2020 and is the chairman of the Sealaska Timber Corporation board in addition to a variety of other positions and responsibilities he fulfills.
The lecture is scheduled for 12 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Shuká Hít within SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lecture will be livestreamed and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel.
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 Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Photo by Brian Wallace, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Note: News outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher-res image, contact email@example.com.