Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has established the first-ever registry of Tlingit clan crests— the most important symbols of the history and identity of Tlingit people—and published a book presenting the initial six clans and crests documented for the project.
The book, The Crests of Tlingit Clans, features clan narratives that were prepared from transcripts of oral histories, interviews, videos, and speeches given by clan leaders and clan spokespersons representing the clans whose crests are described in the volume.
The book also features imagery of the six crests, which were acquired by ancestors in the ancient past and represent crucial encounters with supernatural beings that determine the unique identity and character of clan members.
The book is based on the registry, and SHI will continue to expand the resource as more crests are added, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
“This initial version of the registry presents one crest for each of six clans. There are many Tlingit clans, and SHI will continue to raise funds to document additional clans and crests,” Worl said. “Furthermore, most clans have more than one crest, and the registry will also be expanded to include as many crests as can be documented.”
The book includes short narratives describing the acquisition of the following crests developed from accounts provided by clan leaders and historians:
- Kaawashag̱i G̱ooch (Panting Wolf) Crest of the Kaagwaantaan clan
- Tl’anaxéedáḵw (Wealth-Bringing Woman) Crest of the L’eeneidí clan
- X̱’áakw (Fresh-Water-Marked Sockeye Salmon) Crest of the Lukaax̱.ádi clan
- Xeitl (Thunderbird) Crest of the Shangukeidí clan
- Ḵ’eiḵ’w (Kittiwake) Crest of the T’aḵdeintaan clan
- Tóos’ (Shark) Crest of the Wooshkeetaan clan
The book was edited by SHI’s Senior Ethnologist Chuck Smythe, Ph.D., and published through the institute’s Box of Knowledge series.
The book is available through the Sealaska Heritage Store. The registry is posted online on SHI’s website.
This project was supported in part through a grant from the Grants to Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian Organizations Program as administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.
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