SHI has partnered with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to develop and offer an Associate of Arts (AA) degree with an emphasis on Northwest Coast arts. The undergraduate program includes a wide spectrum of classes—from tool making to design, basketry and weaving among others. The program, which will be offered this fall at the university’s Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka campuses, is part of a larger effort to establish a four-year degree track through UAS and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Thanks to an MOA between SHI, UAS, and IAIA, students who earn an AA degree with a NWC Arts emphasis have the option to transfer credits and pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from IAIA. Students can also work toward a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences or education at UAS or the broader University of Alaska system.
In addition to art classes, the program requires students to complete courses in Alaska Native studies, Indigenous performing arts and a language class on beginning Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian, as well as Northwest Coast design, art history and culture, art theory and practice, and career development for artists.
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 sponsors master-apprenticeships to perpetuate and revitalize Northwest Coast art, especially endangered traditions, such as spruce-root weaving and dugout canoe carving. The program was fostered at SHI's first Native Artists Gathering, which brought together nearly 30 artists in 2015 who identified the most imperiled Northwest Coast Native art traditions. This traditional method of training younger artists still provides the best instruction.
SHI has posted numerous videos online, including a two-day formline workshop taught by Steve Brown, ovoid construction with David R. Boxley using Adobe Illustrator, and how-to video series showing spruce root weaving in practice, from harvesting the roots to weaving and finishing the basket, as well as some time talking with Delores Churchill, a master Haida weaver. This series was created to help revive the endangered art form of spruce root weaving and features several apprentices. The video documentation was gifted to SHI by Lindblad Expeditions as a way to give back to the cultures that their clients (tourists) are exposed to. Instructional videos on how to make horn spoons were created in an effort to save this endangered Northwest Coast art practice. Horn spoon instructor Steve Brown narrates the videos.
Videos are posted online on our YouTube channel and on our Vimeo page.
We perpetuate, enhance and share Southeast Alaskan Native culture through our Institute, our store, and our True Southeast visitor experience.