Sealaska Heritage Institute launches new program to cultivate more indiginous actors, performing artists

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is launching a new demonstration project to cultivate more Indigenous actors and performing artists to support future productions that incorporate Native culture and language.

    SHI is currently accepting applications for the first session, which is free and scheduled March 11-12 with Native teachers Ed Littlefield, Lyle James, Kolene James, and Lance Twitchell.

    The program, Naakahidi (Clan House) Academy, aadé sh kadulneek yé (the way stories are told), is meant to further the skills of Indigenous performers to act and sing in the Tlingit language and to refine their skills in dance, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

    “Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people have an ancient history of storytelling and performing Native songs and dances, so the progression to a modern setting such as the stage is a natural fit. Performing arts is another way to teach the general public about our cultures in a new and dynamic way,” Worl said.

    During the workshop, Littlefield and Twitchell will teach Tlingit language basics and strengthen performers’ connections to the text. Instructors will also incorporate several songs and dances into the sessions.

    Budding performers from all performing arts disciplines are encouraged to participate, including dancers, musicians, actors and storytellers. Fluency in the Tlingit language is not required.

    SHI is seeking additional funds to expand the program to productions in the Haida and Tsimshian languages.

    The free program is open to high school students and adults in Juneau. Applications are due Friday, March 3. For more information about the workshop, contact Flordelino Lagundino at 907-586-9579 or at

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