Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: March 11th, 2021

Free event to be offered virtually

March 11, 2021

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will host a free lecture next Tuesday, March 16, on how the Organized Village of Kake (OVK) advocated for subsistence rights during the COVID-19 pandemic and the opposition to the OVK’s efforts that arose from the State of Alaska.

The lecture, Tribal Sovereignty During a Worldwide Pandemic, will be given by Kaaxwáan Dawn Jackson, executive director of the OVK.

The OVK, the federally recognized tribe of Kake, Alaska, experienced their first pandemic in this lifetime along with the rest of the world. 

“The decision to advocate for our ways of life became priority as FDA approved meats and other resources were becoming scarce due to COVID-19 outbreaks in meat factories in the U.S.,” Jackson wrote.

Living in the heart of Lingít Aaní (Tongass National Forest), Kake is surrounded by wildlife, wild plants and the freshest of seafood, Jackson wrote. The OVK Tribal Council, led by President Joel Jackson, put into motion a government-to-government process in April leading to the issuance of a Special Action Request (SAR) with the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) in late June.

“This was to ensure our community had access to the healthiest of foods during an uncertain time,” Jackson wrote.

The community of Kake, known historically as fierce protectors of their lands and ways of life, used this SAR to provide two moose and five bucks their hunters were blessed to harvest, Jackson wrote.

As 2020 passed into fall, the State of Alaska, who continues to exert undue influence over Native ways of life, Jackson wrote, sued the Federal Subsistence Board over this SAR.

The OVK made the decision to intervene in this lawsuit (State of Alaska, Dept. of Fish and Game v. Federal Subsistence Board), knowing all decisions were in the best interest of the OVK and done according to the law.

“Tribal sovereignty in the 21st century can and should be defined and governed by each Native community as it fits their environment, history, land base, cultural practices and ways of life,” Jackson wrote.

The presentation is part of a lecture series focusing on subsistence in Alaska Native communities and factors that impact traditional subsistence practices.

All lectures will be livestreamed at 12 pm Alaska time on SHI’s YouTube channel, and available for viewing on YouTube any time after the livestream (no account required).

This program is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program.

About the Lecturer

Kaax̲waan ax̲ Lingít saayí. Dleit k̲áa x̲’eináx̲ Dawn Jackson yóo x̲at duwasáakw. Tsaagweidí naax̲ x̲at sitee. Xaay Hítdáx̲ áyá x̲át. Kaach.ádi yádi áyá x̲át. T’akdeintaan áyá ax̲ daakanóox’u.

Dawn Jackson is the current executive director of the OVK. Born and raised in Kake, Dawn is an enrolled tribal citizen with OVK and has worked with the Tribe in various capacities since 1997. Dawn received her B.A. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, respectively. Although a recovering anthropologist, Dawn still finds interest in how the field has changed since leaving it permanently in the late 1990s. 

Today, Dawn is a proud mother of two children, finding peace and wellness in this time of a pandemic exploring and learning her traditional ways of life in the ocean, beaches and woods alongside her family of her home community of Ḵéex̱’ Ḵwáan (Kake).

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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