Southeast Alaska Native Culture

Southeast Alaska Native Culture

Sealaska Scholarships

Sealaska Heritage Institute provides scholarships to Alaska Natives who are Sealaska Shareholders and Descendants for college, university, and vocational and technical schools. The annual awards are funded mainly by Sealaska, and the award amounts vary by year. The application period opens Dec. 15 and closes on March 1 each year. Applications must be filled out and submitted online. Send questions to


SHI works with researchers to develop and publish books on topics pertinent to the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, and to the public at large. SHI also conducts its own research on topics germane to Native cultures and has published many books, including children's books. It also publishes the Box of Knowledge series, consisting of essays, reports, and books that the institute considers should be made available as a contribution to studies on Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures, history and languages.

Campus Classes

SHI offers instruction on Northwest Coast art at the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in Juneau. The program provides beginning, intermediate, and advanced training to individuals interested in learning about these unique and culturally rich art forms. Led by experienced instructors, these classes offer teachings in a wide variety of subjects, including basket weaving, beading, formline design, metal engraving, skin sewing, spruce-root and cedar-bark harvesting, tool making, and wood carving. The classes are part of SHI’s goal to establish a bachelor's degree in Northwest Coast art through its partners, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many of the classes at the campus may be taken for college credit through UAS, which offers an Associate of Arts (AA) degree with an emphasis on Northwest Coast arts.

Community Classes

SHI offers in-person workshops to people living outside of Juneau in Alaska and the Lower 48. These classes are designed to teach participants about Northwest Coast art's traditional techniques and styles. Through hands-on instruction and guidance from experienced artists and teachers, participants can develop their artistic skills in ancient art practices such as basket weaving, beading, formline design, metal engraving, skin sewing, spruce-root and cedar-bark harvesting, tool making, and wood carving. Community workshops provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment that encourages creativity, collaboration, and cultural exchange.

Naakahídi Academy (Clan House)

NWC art historically included a rich performing arts tradition. In modern times, SHI has sought to integrate Native cultures into productions such as operas and plays. To that end, SHI sponsors Aadé sh kadulneek yé, which seeks to foster acting, Native language, and singing skills into adults for such performances.

Juried Art Show and Competition

SHI sponsors a biennial Juried Art Show and Competition, which is held in conjunction with Celebration, a major dance-and-culture festival organized by SHI. The goals of the Juried Art Show are: - To encourage and enhance the creation and production of Southeast Alaska Native objects of artistic value that have fallen into disuse and are becoming rare - To stimulate and enhance the quality of artistic work among our Native artisans - To encourage the development of new forms of art of purely Southeast Alaska Native form and design

Native Art in Alaska Prisons

A significant population of Alaska Natives is in correctional institutions. SHI collaborates with Lemon Creek Correctional Center to offer NWC art training in prison as a way to connect Native inmates with their culture and give them a means of supporting themselves through art sales upon release.

Designated Artist’ Spaces

SHI operates an artist-in-residence study room at the Walter Soboleff Building named after master artist Delores Churchill to encourage the study of NWC art. Artists have access to SHI’s extensive ethnographic collection for study while they are in residence. SHI also hosts artists at its Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus and accommodates artists working on large-scale projects, such as totem poles and dugout canoes.

The Road to ANCSA: History (b): Unit 2: Grade 8

Native leaders became effective lobbyists against some of the most powerful political and business leaders in the world. It all made for some interesting alliances. By the end of 1971 a compromise had been reached, and the land claims legislation had been passed by both bodies of Congress. In December, back in Anchorage, a special AFN convention was called to vote on the act as passed by Congress. On December 18th, the AFN delegates voted to accept the act, 511 to 56.

The Road to ANCSA: The Persistence of Native Culture: Unit 10: Grade 7

Although facing many pressures over the years, Native culture has persisted in Alaska. This was due to many dedicated people and groups who kept Native heritage alive. The Alaska Native Brotherhood originally promoted efforts to suppress Native language and traditions. However, the organization led the revival of aboriginal culture by adopting traditional rules, procedures, and protocol for their meetings. By the late 1980s, the Tlingit language was spoken only by people over the age of 50. Nora Dauenhauer and several respected traditional scholars offered Tlingit language classes and developed curriculum materials. Although children are no longer speaking Tlingit as their first language, they continue to sing Tlingit songs in dance groups, learn cultural traditions at culture camps, and experience firsthand the vibrancy of their Native culture in action at ku.éex’, totem pole raisings, and other celebrations.

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