Tlingit children are traditionally taught their lineage through oral history. They learn their family history, what village they are from, what clan they are a member of, what moiety they belong to, and the crests they are entitled to use because of that membership. Through oral history they learn their Tlingit name, where it came from and what it means. Knowing who you are and where you come from is absolutely essential today even as it was generations ago.
One of the first things anyone who sees an old village site notices are the magnificent totem poles perched along the shore. To us today totems are beautiful works of art. To the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska they also hold deep meaning and are of great significance. They tell clan stories and describe important historical events. Some even signify the final resting place of clan leaders.
This unit explores the use of the spruce tree. The roots provided containers for cooking, hats to keep people dry and lashings for many of the tools used. The trunk gives us canoes, paddles and temporary shelters, and the pitch was melted down and used as an antiseptic on cut and burns. Many atóow--clan treasures--are carved from the trunks of spruce trees or woven from the roots.
Although many needs are now met with commercially produced plant products, Tlingit people continue to gather plants for nutritious food, herbal medicine and to create cultural treasures. Tlingits believe everything has a spirit. Respect and thanks are expressed when gathering what nature provides.
Haida children are traditionally taught their lineage through oral history where they learn their family history, what village they are from, what clan they are a member of, what moiety they belong to, and the crests they are entitled to use.
Description: Southeast Alaska has abundant resources and Haida people developed food gathering techniques around these seasonal resources, including fish, berries, and game.
Personal Names: Jordan Lachler, Cherilyn Holter, Linda Schrack, Julie Folta
The first high tide in May brings the celebration of returning hooligan, with seagulls, seals and seal lions, eagles, ravens, crows and people all joining in this welcoming of spring. Students learn the cultural and ecological rules to guarantee the return of this valuable food source in this unit.
Herring may not be a primary food source to Tlingit people; but those foods that we are so dependent on use herring as their primary food. Herring help teach us to respect all life and recognize how we are all linked to one another.
The forest in Southeast Alaska is a Sitka Spruce/Western Hemlock rainforest. Historically, Tlingit people had many uses for hemlock trees. The rough, reddish brown bark is used for tanning hides and producing the black dye for Chilkat Robes.
Some wild berries are not exactly palatable eaten alone. For example, currents and soap berries are best mixed with sweeteners. Berries, like the salmonberry, are usually served mixed with cultivated berries or other fruits such as bananas. This mixture is a common food at Tlingit events and ceremonies.
In this unit, students study beach creatures and gathering and processing techniques.
This unit is best suited for the spring because many schools conduct Sea Week/Month activities during April or May.
We perpetuate, enhance and share Southeast Alaskan Native culture through our Institute, our store, and our True Southeast visitor experience.