Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Oct. 29, 2013 (Flyer)

November series will focus on spirituality

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a noon lecture series to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November.

The brown-bag lunch series will focus on spirituality, said SHI President Rosita Worl. Native spirituality is a topic that has come up in issues dealing with repatriation and other areas. SHI’s Council of Traditional Scholars has wrestled with how to bring the knowledge of shamanism into the modern world and to correct the many misconceptions about shamanism. Also, an Alaska court recently heard testimony on Yup’ik fishing and spirituality, said Worl, adding the timing for this discussion seemed appropriate.

“As a society, we still have a lot to learn about Native religion, Native spirituality. We’re hopeful that our lecture series is going to offer an insight into Native spirituality and Native religion,” said Worl, who also will give one of the lectures.

The lectures are sponsored by ConocoPhillips Alaska and will be held from 12-1 pm in the 4th floor boardroom at Sealaska Plaza in Juneau. Attendees are invited to bring their own lunches. The talks also will be videotaped and posted online.

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

CONTACT: Rosita Worl, SHI President, 907.463.4844

12-1 pm, Sealaska Plaza, 4th Floor Boardroom (bring your own lunch)
Tuesday, Nov. 5
Spiritual Connections and Obligations: The Foundation of Tlingit Existence
Steve J. Langdon
Professor of Anthropology, University of Alaska Anchorage

The Tlingit cosmos is filled with spiritual presence, essences and powers that exist both within and beyond direct experience.  Tlingit life is fundamentally relational in that interactions with others establish the basis for existence and welfare.   All spiritual forms are attentive, sentient, and volitional and positive relations with them are essential.  These necessary relations must be based on respect, and violation of the principle of respect can threaten existence at many levels.  It is through the continuous circulation of respect – in thought and deed – exhibited in connections and fulfillment of obligations in various socially and ritually prescribed ways that Tlingit pursue a morality that will insure the continuity of existence.  The Tlingit cosmos is founded on the principle of relational sustainability – through appropriate respectful relations, the continuity of existence is maintained.

Tuesday, Nov. 12
Reclaiming Traditional Spirituality
Jana Harcharek
Director, Iñupiaq Education Department at North Slope Borough School District

Nuances associated with traditional spirituality continue to be oppressed as a result of Christian influences. In this presentation, Pausauraq Jana Harcharek will speak about efforts to effect change to make the discussion of traditional "religion" acceptable for purposes of setting the stage for the reclamation of traditional spirituality more widespread in the Iñupiaq region.

Monday, Nov. 18
Tlingit Spirituality and Shamanism in the 21st Century
Dr. Rosita Worl
President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

Although the Tlingit no longer have shamans, their traditional spiritual ideologies remain vibrant.  This discussion will review the traditional practices of shamans and focus on Tlingit spirituality and its manifestation in cultural objects including shamanic paraphernalia.  It will also assess the exchanges between the natural and supernatural as they continue to occur in the round of ceremonies which are held primarily in the Fall season and in memorial rites held throughout the year. 

Tuesday, Nov. 19
The Great Blessing of the Water: Salmon and Indigenized Orthodoxy on the Nushagak River
Alan Boraas
Professor of Anthropology, Kenai Peninsula College

The Nushagak Yup’ik are among the last of the world’s salmon cultures and spirituality is fundamental to their being. One of the enduring ceremonies of the Yup’ik villages of the Nushagak River is the Great Blessing of the Water. I will describe my observations of this remarkable ceremony during my visit in 2011 and relate it to the people’s fight to maintain a modern subsistence lifestyle in the face of proposed industrial mining.

Tuesday, Nov. 26
The Essence of Tlingit Spirituality
David Katzeek
Tlingit, Shangukeidí Clan Leader

Ldakát át ayakghwahéiyagu khudzitee, the spirit in all things. Since time immemorial the Tlingit people have practiced their beliefs with one of the most powerful words in the Tlingit language “yáa át wooné”, respect! This leads us into the way people would live, what they would learn, how they would learn, and how they would apply what they learned. This covered a wide variety of topics, starting with learning to listen, pay attention, and be still, which is important in respecting oneself. It is important to accept one’s intelligence and become responsible for it. Learning how to learn and applying the knowledge gained is important. To respect is the primary cornerstone of the Tlingit house of education and knowledge. Without education and knowledge it is difficult to respect oneself, family, others, community, environment and all creatures great and small.  This includes the water, the rivers, the ponds, the lakes, the streams, the rivers, the ocean, the seas, the trees, the animals, the rocks, the mountains, hills, and the creatures on the earth, the heavens, the sun the moon and the list goes on. This session will describe this process with songs and stories, names, and place names.

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