Sealaska Heritage Institute Hosts Two Lectures for Native American Heritage Month

National Native American Heritage Month

NovemberAll_250ANCHORAGE—Sealaska Heritage Institute will sponsor a free lecture on Tuesday, November 18 on the harbor seals and other rich resources of Yakutat Bay that have sustained the Eyak, Ahtna and Tlingit people throughout history.

Dr. Aron Crowell from the Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies Center and UAA’s Judy Ramos of Yakutat will talk about collaborative efforts to research the unique history of the Yakutat people and their relationship to one of Alaska’s richest ecosystems.

The lecture 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. Free. The lecture 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. Free.The lecture will be from 12-1 pm in the 4th floor boardroom at Sealaska Plaza in Juneau. Attendees are invited to bring their own lunches. Free.

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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

At the Glacier’s Edge: People, Seals, and History at Yakutat Bay

Dr. Aron Crowell, Alaska Director, Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum, and Judy Ramos, Assistant Professor, Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, University of Alaska Anchorage

As glaciers that once filled Yakutat Bay retreated its waters teemed with seals and fish, and Alaska Native peoples of three different cultures – Eyak, Ahtna, and Tlingit – arrived to make a new way of life together.  Harbor seals that gather by the thousands in the bay’s floating glacial ice have always been the most important resource, from 1000 years ago to the present day. Now the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center, the National Science Foundation, the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Sealaska Corporation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service are partnering on research into the unique history of the Yakutat people and their relationship to one of Alaska’s richest ecosystems. Archaeologists are uncovering dwellings, artifacts, and animal bones at sealing camps and village sites, revealing ancestral lifeways; elders are recording place names and centuries-old oral traditions; geologists are tracking the glaciers’ movements through time; and hunters are sharing knowledge about seals and seal hunting, from past to present.  Yakutat students are working with the scientists, to help rediscover the traces of their grandparents’ way of life on the land. Hear how this fascinating story of collaborative research comes together in a joint presentation by anthropologist and archaeologist Dr. Aron Crowell (Smithsonian Institution) and indigenous knowledge researcher Judith Ramos (University of Alaska Fairbanks).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Changing shorelines and the Search for Early Habitation Sites

Jim Baichtal

Forest Geologist, Tongass National Forest

An extensive literature search and years of field reconnaissance have resulted in a dataset of over 450 shell-bearing raised marine deposits throughout Southeast Alaska. It includes site location, elevation, and description when available, and over 250 radiocarbon dates beginning at ~48,000 ¹⁴C yr BP. Interpretation of this data gives insight on the timing and complexity of isostatic crustal adjustments that resulted from glaciation and deglaciation, eustatic sea level change, and subsequent tectonic uplift. From this data, preliminary relative sea level curves have been developed for much of Southeast Alaska allowing for modeling of the paleo-shorelines through time. The modeling suggests a peripheral forbulge developed west of the ice front along the whole of the coast of Southeast Alaska expanding the area of previously modeled coastal refugia. Using the hypothesized paleo-high tide to predict the elevation where early Holocene archaeological sites may be found has resulted in discovery of over 74 locations with archaeological material, 17 of which date from 6,890 to 9,280 ¹⁴C yr BP. Initial investigation of these sites indicates that they are extensive and rich in microblade technology. These older sites are inland from the present shore in locations that were hitherto considered low probability for cultural resources.

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