Our Trees Take Care of Us Our cultural values shape the conversation around Sealaska’s land stewardship and how our timber profits are invested in perpetuating our culture. For example, we practice our “first tree ceremony” during the spring of every year.
Our timber profits also help us to share and promote our culture with both the Native community and all other communities in the region.
To support and administer cultural and educational programs, Sealaska created Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) in 1980. SHI activities include the Sealaska scholarship program, as well as Celebration, the Heritage Study Program and other language and cultural programs intended to preserve the cultural history of the people of Southeast Alaska. In 2009, Selaska contributed $1.39 million in cash and in-kind services to support the operations of SHI. Using Sealaska donations as leverage, SHI raised an additional $1.38 million in grants, revenue and sales.
Our Traditions Help Us Thrive The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian developed cultural traditions that have lasted for more than 10,000 years. Since the time of first contact, our Native values have allowed us to adapt to change, and to survive as a distinct cultural group.
Today, we continue to maintain our cultural values and many of our traditional practices. We seek to integrate those values into everything we do. Below is a summary of our core Native values.
Haa Aaní: Our Land
Honoring and Utilizing Our Land
Our ancestors, who have lived in this land for more than 10,000 years, taught us that everything has a Spirit. When we utilize our resources, we must acknowledge the Spirits of the Land, Sea and Air and tell them the benefits that their use will bring to our People. Our ancestors protected the ownership of our land for their children and grandchildren just as we must do for future generations.
Haa Shagóon: Past, Present and Future Generations
Honoring our Ancestors and Future Generation
We maintain strong bonds with our ancestors whom we honor through our lives and in our ceremonies. We also have responsibilities to our future generations, and we must ensure that we protect our land and culture for our children and grandchildren and those who will follow them.
Haa Latseen: Our Strength
Strength of Body, Mind and Spirit
Our ancestors lived in ways that gave them great physical and inner strength. Their training encouraged our grandparents and parents to seek truth and knowledge. They taught us to care for our families, clans and communities. They also taught us to adapt to changing times while maintaining the integrity of our ancient values.
Wooch Yax: Balance
Maintaining Spiritual and Social Balance and Harmony
Wooch Yax governs
Interrelationships between Eagle and Raven clans
Interrelationships between the Tlingit and others, including tribes, nations and institutions
Wooch Yax includes Kaa yaa awuné or Respect for Others and Át yaa awuné or Respect for All Things.
Wooch Yax requires that our People and our organizations conduct business with Yán gaa doonéekw or Dignity, realizing that everything has its rightful place and that all action and business must be done respectfully.