Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: September 20th, 2022

Free event to be offered in-person, virtually

(All Lectures)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on Tlingit cultural and ecological knowledge of wolves as part of its fall series.

In his lecture, Gooch: Wolves in Tlingit Culture and Experience, professor Steve Langdon, Ph.D., will explore Indigenous people’s engagement with wolves in Lingít Aaní dating back thousands of years ago.

Wolves are palpably present in Tlingit cultural practice as “Wolf People” and in many daily experiences with Tlingit people, Langdon wrote. Wolves are central to Tlingit social organization, as the totemic representative of half the society, with Ravens on the other side. When a person is born of a mother who is a Wolf, they too become a Wolf and this status echoes throughout life in many ways, including in oral traditions, at.óow (sacred objects), regalia, ceremonial behaviors, names and art objects. In more recent history, Tlingits have adopted or shifted to the use of “Eagle” instead of Wolf as being the moiety or clan opposite of Ravens.

Recent traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) interviews with Tlingit experts extending from Yakutat to Prince of Wales Island identified an enormous and sophisticated range of understanding about wolves and their behavior. Some of this information includes pack locations, territories, movements spatially and seasonally, litter size, diet, hunting patterns, interactions with other animals and crossbreeding with dogs.

The information presented in the lecture comes from a report to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that biologists are using to conduct a Species Status Assessment for the Alexander Archipelago wolf under the Endangered Species Act. 

About the Lecturer

Langdon is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he taught from 1976 until June 2014.

Over his 45-year career, Langdon has conducted research projects on many public policy issues impacting Alaska Natives. He has advocated for policies that enhance and promote rural Alaska Native communities and their cultures in such areas as fisheries, lands, tribal government, cultural heritage, customary trade and co-management.

Langdon has specialized in research on the history and culture of the Tlingit and Haida peoples of Southeast Alaska from pre-contact conditions through the historic period of 19th and early 20th century US governance. He has conducted extensive research on traditional ecological knowledge and uses of salmon by the Tlingit and Haida demonstrating the complex and rich relations between the people and salmon that sustained their cultures for centuries.

His book The Native People of Alaska is a widely used introduction to Alaska Native people.

The lecture is scheduled for 12 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 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,

Caption: Photo courtesy of SHI. Note: News outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher-res image, contact

Share This Post, Choose Your Platform!

Share This Post, Choose Your Platform!