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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
ANCSA cleared the way for construction to begin on the trans–Alaska pipeline. It allowed the state government to continue its selection of land promised in the Alaska Statehood Act. ANCSA also started a process that turned one quarter of Alaska into national parks and monuments. But for Alaska’s Natives it raised more questions than it answered.
The Native corporations have changed Alaska in other ways. Before ANCSA, only about one half of one percent of all Alaska land was privately owned. When ANCSA placed 44 million acres under Native control, those 44 million acres became privately owned. That is more than 15 times as much private land than before the passage of ANCSA in 1971.
Section 7 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act created the regional Native corporations. It was these, along with the village corporations, that received the land and money of the settlement (Laster, 1986).
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is not very big, but it has had a tremendous impact on the state. The act contains many components, all with the same potential for far-reaching benefits or negative consequences.
What do the corporations created by ANCSA actually do? In most ways they are like any other corporation. They’re expected to make a profit. The Native corporations invest heavily in the economic growth of Alaska.
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.
There was a dispute over who rightfully owned it. And, how many acres should be owned by all of us, protected in national parks and wildlife refuges? In 1971 an act of Congress was passed that ended the fight over who owns most of Alaska’s land. This act was the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
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.