Recently a set of important recordings documenting the history of the Wrangell Tlingit were donated to SHI. This set of nine recordings, which contains words by Tlingit artist and Raven Kiks.ádi elder Thomas Ukas (1879-1973) and his son Harry Ukas (1915-1993), was donated by Thomas Ukas’ granddaughter and longtime supporter and trustee of SHI, Ethel Lund.
The recordings contain information on various topics relative to the Wrangell Tlingit, such as information on the history of the Wrangell Kiks.ádi Clan and oral history accounts about Tlingit and Russia relations at Wrangell prior to 1867. Many people, including SHI’s incoming Visiting Scholar Emily Moore, would also be interested in Thomas Ukas’ words about his involvement with an emergency relief program called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s and his restoration work on the Wrangell Totem Park and Chief Shakes Clan House.
The restoration work on the Wrangell Totem Park and Chief Shakes Clan House was part of a wider undertaking when the federal government, acting through the U.S. Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), hired Tlingit and Haida men to restore or replicate nineteenth-century totem poles from Native villages and repair historic clan houses. The artistic work on these parks and houses represent the first major act of government patronage for Tlingit and Haida art in the United States, and the totem parks and clan houses continue to be important sites for Tlingit and Haida communities today. During this period the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) created totem parks at Saxman, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Kasaan, Klawock, and Hydaburg, and the already existing Sitka Totem Park received restoration work. Two clan houses were also renovated as part of this undertaking, including the Chief Shakes Clan House in Wrangell and Son-I-Hat Whale House at Kasaan.
Overall this new collection housed at SHI is available for study for educational purposes and it documents the important role Alaska Natives play in Alaska’s history, present, and future.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a regional nonprofit serving the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.