Sealaska Corp. announced Wednesday that it held its annual First Tree Ceremony on April 13, beginning its 2013 timber harvest program.
According to Sealaska’s announcement, the event was held on Prince of Wales Island near Big Salt, just north of Klawock.
“The First Tree Ceremony is Sealaska’s acknowledgment of the beliefs and practices of our ancestors,” said Rosita Worl, vice chairwoman of Sealaska’s board of directors, in a statement. “To live in an area for at least 10,000 years means we had culture, values and a worldview to sustain us as a people. We both revered and utilized the land. We are fortunate to continue to live on our indigenous lands and that we still own our land.”
Worl continued, “We make that same commitment as our ancestors so that our descendants will have access to the same resources.”
Sealaska’s timber program is dependent on finalizing acreage due under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Albert Kookesh, chairman of the Sealaska board of directors, was quoted in the statement as having said that Sealaska has contributed about $317 million to ANCSA for revenue-sharing payments since its inception.
Klawock City Administrator Leslie Isaacs acknowledged the support to communities on Prince of Wales Island that she said Sealaska has provided.
“We would like to thank Sealaska for having the ceremony on Prince of Wales Island,” said Isaacs. “The support we get from Sealaska on Prince of Wales Island for community projects is immense and we thank you for that.”