Online classes are a form of remote learning where students can participate in educational activities from the comfort of their own homes or workspace. These classes are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the art forms and techniques unique to Northwest Coast cultures. Through online instruction and interactive sessions, students can develop their skills and knowledge of this rich and diverse art form and connect with a community of like-minded artists and learners. Overall, online classes provide an accessible way for individuals to pursue their artistic interests and deepen their understanding of the Northwest Coast art traditions.
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.
Kohklux’s map is the earliest known recording of southwestern Yukon. It portrays three-dimensional views of mountains along rivers and lakes that are clearly recognizable. The map is scaled—not in distance, but in the number of travel days between points. It also contains information about caches, villages, events, and living conditions. The map indicates an extensive knowledge of the land and the people. This knowledge was likely gathered from several sources, including both oral history and firsthand experience.
For generations, the Native peoples of Southeast Alaska lived in communal clan houses. These houses were the social centers of the communities and intrinsically tied to the people, their ancestors, and their heritage. Early missionaries and government representatives failed to appreciate the importance of the clan houses to the Native cultures. The break down of the clan house system signaled major changes to the Native cultures of Southeast Alaska.
Over time, the Native peoples of Southeast Alaska developed sophisticated art forms. Even many tools that were used every day were decorated with art forms. Stories, songs, and drama were also important art forms. The traditional regalia of the Southeast Natives can show power, wealth, and lineage. Native peoples respect the opposite clan and their ancestors in the making and handling of the regalia. Importance is placed on the maker of the regalia. Members of the opposite clan are asked to make the regalia. Regalia in Native culture are an acknowledgment of all ancestors who came before.
Traditionally, the tools used by Native people were also works of art. These tools included stone adzes and axes, drills, and carving knives made from stone, bone, or shell.
There are many reasons for holding a ceremony. Approximately a year after a person dies, the clan of the deceased holds a ceremony. This ceremony is called a ku.éex’ in Tlingit, wáahlaal in Haida and loolgit in Tsimshian. It is sometimes known as a pay-off party or potlatch, which is a word from the Chinook Jargon. Today, Native Elders have asked the younger tribal members not to use the word potlatch. They have asked them to use their own tribal names for the ceremonies. During a ceremony, the deceased and the ancestors of a clan are remembered. It is a time for the clan members to end a year of mourning. The ceremony is held to remove grief. The ceremony is a time for people to get together with their kin. It is a time to honor the opposite moiety. The opposite moiety comforts the grieving clan. The clan of the deceased repays the opposite moiety.
The Tlingits of Southeast Alaska are divided into two groups called moieties. The word moieties is from French and means “half ”. The Tlingit moieties are Raven (Yéil or—long ago—Laayaneidí) and Eagle (Ch’áak’). In earlier times, the Eagle moiety was known as Wolf (Gooch). The Tlingit who live in the interior in Canada still use the Wolf moiety. All Tlingits are members of one of the two moieties. The moieties are divided into smaller groups called clans. Members of one moiety refer to the other moiety as guneit kanáayi (opposite). All people in a moiety consider themselves related to one another. They are related to the members of the opposite moiety through marriage. Moiety membership is shown using an Eagle or Raven crest. Today, many people wear jewelry or their clan at.óowu (regalia) that show their moiety. In Tlingit life, it is important to have a balance between the Eagle and Raven.
Native peoples inhabited the islands and mainland of Southeast Alaska for at least ten thousand years. The relatively moderate climate of the area and an abundance of natural resources allowed for the development of highly sophisticated cultures. The social organization was complex and the development of Native art flourished. Most permanent communities began as camps or villages, with an economic base tied to fishing, forestry, and/or mining. Employment attracted many Native people to the permanent commercial centers of Southeast Alaska.
Values are the rules that people use to live with one another. Beliefs are what people believe to be right. Not all cultures have the same values and beliefs. The values and beliefs of one group can clash with those of another group The values and beliefs of most Native tribes in North America underwent change or changed completely with contact. Despite this clash of values and beliefs, many Natives today continue to practice elements of their ancestral teachings.
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.
Using red and yellow cedar trees they made their homes, canoes, clothing, tools, dishes, baskets and monument poles. Today, Tlingit and Haida people continue these traditions, holding deep respect for the cedar and the gifts that it provides to sustain and enrich peoples' lives.
For hundreds of years, the ocean and the forest have provided life sustaining resources for the Haida people of Southeast Alaska. Using red and yellow cedar trees they made their homes, canoes, clothing, tools, dishes, baskets and monument poles.
Canoes represent unity and teamwork, strength training and health, as well as being a sophisticated art form and symbol of cultural identity. In this unit students learn what makes objects move and understand how they move. Central understandings include the concepts of friction, gravity, force, and the movement of sound waves.
Description: A series of elementary level thematic units featuring Haida language, culture and history.
This unit is best suited for the spring because many schools conduct Sea Week/Month activities during April or May.
Personal Names: Jordan Lachler, Cherilyn Holter, Linda Schrack, Julie Folta
We perpetuate, enhance and share Southeast Alaskan Native culture through our Institute, our store, and our True Southeast visitor experience.