JUNEAU, AK – The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) announced the release of a new educational harvest series on YouTube.
The videos highlight the traditional harvesting practices of tribal citizens on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska and are the product of a community collaboration with Cedar Group, a Southeast Alaska-based marketing and public relations business rooted in place-based connections and Alaska Native values.
“Our traditional foods are core to who we are and our way of life,” shared President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “This project is truly an example of what we can do when we work together to ensure knowledge is passed down to the next generation. It’s also about community sustainability and food sovereignty. These videos not only show our traditional knowledge, they capture our community and the intrinsic generosity of our people.”
The partnership to develop the Harvest series began in 2021 as an effort to catalog traditional Southeast Alaska Indigenous hunting and foraging techniques.
“In one of my initial meetings with President Peterson and Cultural Heritage & Education Director Sarah Dybdahl, they had words of excitement and encouragement about really creating an asset that can live on for generations,” said Todd Antioquia, Principal and Senior Strategist for Cedar Group.
For the past two years, Tlingit & Haida’s Cultural Heritage & Education Division and Cedar Group worked directly with tribal citizens to prioritize and document 10 harvesting methods.
“It was a dream come true,” said tribal citizen Taa’yn, who lives in Klawock, Alaska and shared his knowledge on how to dry and smoke salmon for the Harvest series.
Funded under a United States Department of Education, Alaska Native Education program grant, the goal of the harvest series was to not only be a resource for children, but also educators. That’s why each episode includes instructions and a list of all ingredients needed to replicate the food processing methods.
“We want to show our way of life and what it means to be connected to the land,” said Sarah Dybdahl, who initiated the project as the former Senior Director of the Cultural Heritage & Education Division. “It’s more than just going out and getting berries or beach asparagus. It’s about teaching our values, it’s about connections in our community, and it’s something we hope will be brought into classrooms.”
Plans are underway to continue to expand the Harvest series under a new collaboration between the Tribe’s Cultural Heritage & Education Division and Traditional Food Security Department.
Traditional Food Security Coordinator Claude Young was one of three tribal citizens featured in the Harvest series episode on how to hunt and process a seal.
“Documenting something as simple as a seal hunt will be a great resource,” said Claude. “To have that library and knowledge of how it’s done will be a great benefit to future generations. Being able to document it and do it in a beautiful way is so important.”
Harvest Series Episodes (click here to watch):
- Traditional Tidal Gink Piles | Tlingit & Haida Harvest “Stink Head”:Jon Rowan Jr. of Klawock shows us how to ferment fish heads using the tide on Prince of Wales Island
- Famous Amos Shares His Secrets | Dry Fish:Taa’yn of Klawock reveals another traditional way to smoke salmon on Prince of Wales Island
- Honey without Bees? | Fireweed & Clover Honey: Shauna Thomas & Carrie Dawn Durgan of Craig teach us how to harvest fireweed and clover flowers to turn into honey on Prince of Wales Island
- Fishing by Beach Seining | Catching & Cleaning Sockeye Salmon:Learn how to net fish with Mike Kennedy, David Edenshaw, Dennis Edenshaw and Ben Young on Prince of Wales Island
- An Alaska Delicacy! | Herring Eggs: Heather Douville takes us out in the boat and shows us how to harvest herring eggs off the coast of Prince of Wales Island
- Pressure Cooking Sea Asparagus | Beach Greens:Shauna Thomas of Craig shows us how to harvest and preserve beach greens aka sea asparagus on Prince of Wales Island
- Hydaburg Seal Hunt | Seal Meat & Oil:Learn how to hunt, butcher, and prepare seal with Claude Young, Ted Peele and Anthony Christianson on Prince of Wales Island
- Fermenting Salmon Eggs | Indian Cheese:Eva Rowan of Heinyaa Kwáan shows us how to ferment salmon eggs into Indian Cheese on Prince of Wales Island
- Coastal Foraging | Seaweed & Gumboots:Jon Rowan Jr. shows us how to forage the tideline on Prince of Wales Island while Leslie Sheakley and Tamara Buoy of Craig teach us how to pickle gumboots and dry seaweed
- Alder or Beech Smoke? | Newspaper Fish:Taa’yn of Klawock teaches us how to smoke salmon on Prince of Wales Island