Grant helps Sealaska Heritage go digital with photo archive

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2003

Sealaska Heritage Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture, is set to digitize and post thousands of historical photos on the Internet.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that invests in libraries and museums, awarded Sealaska Heritage a $147,639 grant to post photos owned by Sealaska Heritage and the regional Native organization Sealaska Corp.

"The photos document an era when, in a single generation, many of Alaska's Native people went from subsisting off the land to managing millions of dollars and acreage in a corporate environment," Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl said in a prepared statement.

Kathy Dye, a spokeswoman for Sealaska Heritage, said the archive will contain a searchable database of about 15,000 photos chronicling historical events such as the creation and evolution of Sealaska Corp. and cultural activities such as Celebration, the biennial festival held in Juneau.

A statement released by Sealaska notes that the photos document "a pivotal era in Alaska Native history when Congress and Alaska opted to found Native corporations instead of Indian reservations."

The timeline for completing the archive is about two years and work is expected to begin within the month, Dye said.

She said the Sealaska Heritage Web site saw a 25 percent spike in Internet traffic beginning in October 2002, when it posted historical photos taken in the 1940s and 1950s by William Paul Jr.

Paul served as secretary for the Alaska Native Brotherhood and worked on Native claims land issues.

Sealaska Heritage also recently received a $363,500 grant from the Administration for Native Americans to publish books on Native art forms and establish Native basket weaving and carving classes in Hoonah.

The classes are taught through a partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast and will be offered from 2004 to 2006.

Dye said the classes will give artists an opportunity to sell their work to the developing tourism market in Hoonah.

The Sealaska Heritage Web site at

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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