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Sealaska Events & Ceremonies Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


Events at Kake and other, undated to 1995.

Addendum photographs of various events and people.

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Sealaska Events & Ceremonies Collection, 1985-1995 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Rick Huteson, Archival Assistant

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Collection Overview

Title: Sealaska Events & Ceremonies Collection, 1985-1995Add to your cart.

ID: PO/028

Primary Creator: Sealaska Heritage Institute

Extent: 3.0 Folders

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of various photos collected by and produced by the Sealaska Heritage Institute that date to between 1985 and 1995. Included in this collection are photos of the Sealaska Annual Meeting of 1985, the construction of Naa Kahidi Theater in 1995, carving of a Tlingit totem, and Tlingit ceremonial recognition of multiple individuals at separate events.

Biographical Note

The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is a regional Native non-profit organization founded for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. SHI was established in 1981 by Sealaska Corp., a for-profit company formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). SHI, formerly Sealaska Heritage Foundation, administers Sealaska Corp.'s cultural and educational programs.

SHI was conceived by Clan Leaders, Traditional Scholars and Elders at the first Sealaska Elders Conference in 1980. During that meeting, the Elders likened Native culture to a blanket. The late George Davis (Kichnáalx—Lk’aanaaw) of Angoon, spoke these memorable words: “We don’t want what you did here to only echo in the air, how our grandfathers used to do things…  Yes. You have unwrapped it for us.  That is why we will open again this container of wisdom left in our care.” These wise traditional leaders told the new leaders that their hands were growing weary of holding onto the metaphorical blanket, this "container of wisdom." They said they were transferring this responsibility to the Corporation. In response to this directive, Sealaska Corporation created its non-profit arm, Sealaska Heritage Institute, to administer cultural and educational programs for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

During its first decade of operation, under the leadership of David Katzeek, SHI began to administer its Scholarship Program from funds set aside by Sealaska Corporation for this purpose. The second major focus at that time was the documentation of oral traditions, a project led by Tlingit scholar Dr. Nora Marks Dauenhauer and her husband, Dr. Richard Dauenhauer. Over nearly a 20-year period, these efforts led to several major publications by the Institute of the Dauenhauer’s work, including:  “Because We Cherish You…” Sealaska Elders Speak to the Future, in 1981; Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors, Volume I of our Tlingit Oral Narratives (1987); Haa Tuwunáagu Yís: for Healing our Spirit. Vol. 2, Tlingit Oral Narratives. (1990); the Third Edition of Beginning Tlingit in 1991; Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories (1994); and Aan Aduspelled X’úx’, Tlingit Spelling Book in 1999. A number of these publications were co-published by the Institute and University of Washington Press. During this period, the Institute also created Naa Kahídi Theater, which won national acclaim for its dramatic presentation of Native legends.

One year after SHI was founded the Institute sponsored the first United Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Traditional Celebration, held in Juneau. Celebration '82 was so popular that our Board of Trustees decided the festival should become a biennial event. New dance groups began to form in response to Celebration, and every other year, the festival grew. Today, nearly every community in Southeast as well as Anchorage, the Seattle area, Hawaii and Canada, are represented by roughly two-thousand dancers in nearly fifty dance groups. During Celebration, workshops on various aspects of traditional culture and history also occur. Because SHI is the only major region-wide organization dedicated to cultural preservation, its Board of Trustees has mandated that Celebration be dedicated solely to honoring our traditional culture.

More recently, while continuing to honor the Institute's mission statement, “To perpetuate the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures,” the Trustees in 1997 adopted language restoration as the foremost priority of the Institute. Few funds were available initially for this objective, but the Institute launched an aggressive fund-raising campaign, and today, SHI sponsors and supports numerous language and culture programs across Southeast Alaska. The Institute also sponsors archival projects, historical research, and new publications. Since SHI’s founding, it has had four presidents; David Katzeek (1980-1991), Dennis Demmert (1992-1996), Ted Wright (1996-1998), and Rosita Worl (1998-present).

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Method: The materials in this collection were transferred to SHI prior to 2007. Many of these images were taken by Sealaska employees, and subsequently transferred to SHI archives.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Folder:

[Folder 1: Photographs],
[Folder 2: Events at Kake and other, undated to 1995.],
[Folder 3: Addendum photographs of various events and people.],

Folder 2: Events at Kake and other, undated to 1995.Add to your cart.

2:1:      Blanket being bestowed upon an elderly male individual as a sign of recognition

2:2:      Tlingit dance group performing, identified blanket:  contemporary, factory produced version of Chief Shakes Killer Whale blanket

2:3:      Male individual performing a Tlingit dance, he is wearing a blanket and large wooden hat carved in the shape of a Tlingit designed Raven

2:4:      Large gathering of Tlingit dancers performing,  a painting of “spouting water” design hangs on the wall in the background as well as a Raven, two headed Eagle and Killer Whale clan crest

2:5:      Tlingit elders conversing in dance regalia, drum clan crest is of Raven.

2:6:      Tlingit dance group performance, identified crest: Raven, Killer Whale

2:7:      Tlingit dance group performance, identified crests: Eagle, Killer Whale, Black Bear

2:8:      Tlingit dance group performance, identified crests: Killer Whale (contemporary remake of Chief Shakes’ blanket), Raven

2:9:      Tlingit dance group performance, man lying on the floor while individual dressed an elderly character with a hunched back leans over man on floor.  People in audience smile with delight

2:10:  Tlingit dance group performance, man lying on floor while individual dressed as a Shaman dances around him.

2:11:  Tlingit dance group performance, man lying on floor while individual wearing blanket pokes man on floor with a sharp stick.

2:12:    Color image showing a gathering of Tlingit and others on what appears to be a south Douglas beach with a Hawaiian Outrigger-ship arriving, summer 1995.

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