Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is launching a region-wide program to teach skin sewing in an effort to perpetuate the traditional art practice of using sea otter fur and to create cottage industries in Southeast Alaska.
Through SHI’s Sustainable Arts Program, offered through the institute’s Jinéit Art Academy, the institute will sponsor 11 workshops in ten communities across the region, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
“Sea otter pelts are the finest furs in the world with 1,000,000 hairs per square inch. The population is also sustainable. More than 20,000 sea otters live in Southeast Alaska and their numbers are growing. Alaska Natives can sustainably harvest 2,000 per year, and we currently harvest fewer than 1,000,” Worl said.
“We are seeking to perpetuate this traditional art form and create cottage industries in our economically depressed communities by utilizing a sustainable and an abundant resource.”
SHI will offer workshops in Hoonah, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Yakutat, Sitka and Juneau this fall and in Klawock, Kake, Saxman, Anchorage and Juneau in spring 2019.
Three workshops have been scheduled so far: Oct. 11-14 at Gajaa Hít in Juneau, Nov. 15-18 in Hoonah and Dec. 13-16 in Ketchikan. Other information on dates and locations will be announced soon. The workshops will be taught by Louise Kadinger, Jeremiah James and Robert Mills.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.