Local lectures, dances, artist market scheduled for Native American Heritage Month

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sealaska Heritage Institute will sponsor a noon lecture series, dance performances, and a Native art market to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November.

The brown-bag lunch series will focus on topics such as Tlingits and combat and Native history and language. The program this year will include dance performances at the Juneau-Douglas High School, plus a Native artist market, which will be set up in the commons of the school during the afternoon of the performances.

The celebration of Native dance, art, culture and history are free and open to the public, said SHI President Rosita Worl, adding she hopes attendees will learn more about Southeast Native cultures.

"I hope they learn more about Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people. I hope they learn about the history of our region. I hope they know also that we're still alive and that our cultures are still here and still vital," she said.

November is appropriately Native American Heritage Month - during this month, the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, and we should be reminded that Native Americans played a major role in the origin of Thanksgiving, Worl said, noting the colonists were celebrating their successful settlements and their survival. They acknowledged the Native Americans and the land and food resources they obtained from them; it was a history repeated as the colonists moved westward across America, said Worl, adding she hopes teachers in November show "For the Rights of All," a recently released documentary about the civil rights movement in Alaska for which the institute is developing complimentary curriculum.

Lecture series

The lecture series will kick off Oct. 25 with a talk by Fiona McDonald of University College London, a visiting scholar to the institute who is studying button blankets for her research on woolen trade blankets in the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand. Other lectures include:

Friday, Nov. 5: Professor of Anthropology Madonna Moss from the University of Oregon will present "Pre-Contact Tlingit Warfare: What Do We Really Know?"

Monday, Nov. 8: Professor of Anthropology Dan Monteith from the University of Alaska Southeast, will present "Tlingit Oral Narratives and Deep History."

Monday, Nov. 15: SHI Archivist Zachary Jones (who is also an adjunct instructor of history at the University of Southeast) will present "Un-silencing the Past: Reassessing American Military Relations with the Tlingit in 1869."

Monday, Nov. 22: Professor of Slavic Languages Edward Vajda from Western Washington University will present "Languages Across Bering Strait: My Siberian Odyssey and the Reconnecting of Asia and America."

Monday, Nov. 29: Professor of Molecular Anthropology Brian Kemp from Washington State University will present "Just Because You Have Studied One Native American Population, You Haven't Studied Them All: Insights from DNA about Prehistory in the Americas."

Monday, Dec. 6: David Katzeek, leader of the Shangukeidí Clan of Klukwan, will present "The Traditional Tlingit Education System."

Monday, Dec. 13: Cyril George, Sr., leader of the Deisheetaan Clan of Angoon, will present "Tlingit Oral Traditions."

The lectures will be held from 12-1 p.m. in the 4th floor boardroom at Sealaska Plaza in Juneau. Attendees are invited to bring their own lunches.

Dance performances and artist market

SHI will sponsor three dance group performances on Nov. 5 at the Juneau-Douglas High School. The Git-Hoan Dancers, a Tsimshian group, and the Xudzidaa Kwáan Dancers of Angoon will perform at 10 a.m. for elementary students, 1 p.m. for junior high and high school students, and at 7 p.m. for the community.

"This is another opportunity for the public to see our regalia in movement - used by people, not just a sterile photo of clan objects in a magazine or a book or in an exhibit, but now you can really see how our people use their ceremonial objects," Worl said.

SHI will also sponsor a Native Artist Market from 5-9 p.m. in the commons.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a regional nonprofit representing the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.

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