Culture & Language

The new Chilkoot Indian Association Cultural Department launched with the hire of Director Helen Alten in December 2021. The Cultural Department includes Cultural Education Coordinator, Cindy Price-Hagwood and Language Project Manager, Marsha Hotch. Funded by grants from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Cultural Department will spearhead community education and research in language and culture.

A 2013 study, “Establishing a Creative Economy: Art as an Economic Engine in Native Communities,” found that Native artists play a critical role in building economies, generating assets, and constructing effective social networks. One of our identified community challenges is that there are few traditional master artisans in Haines. The cultural program has two goals. First, we will build the capacity of our Native artists by providing skill building and networks through apprenticeships and workshops, entrepreneurship training, and financial stipends. Each year we will match two apprentices with two master artists (who may or may not live in Haines) to build Haines’ skilled traditional artisan resources. Apprentices will receive a $6,000 stipend and support for art supplies. The master artisans will receive a $10,000 stipend. Apprentice application forms are posted here.

Another goal is to improve the community’s ability to understand and create Formline art. Formline is the basic building block for all Tlingit art. Understanding and being able to read Formline takes practice and experience.  Staff will use and expand on materials created by other organizations to develop multi-age Formline curricula. Public and school workshops will focus on Formline as a means of communicating ideas as well as being pure art.

Language retention is critical as our Native speakers are aging. In 2022, the new language program cataloged, analyzed and organized extant Tlingit Language resources, local and regional, in order to write a strategic plan for language revitalization in the Chilkat Valley. A community survey was completed to determine the extent of Tlingit language fluency in our community, providing a baseline for our future language work. On October 12, 2022 we will start an intensive three-year fluency class and two language apprenticeships. In 2023 a second intensive class will begin, for those who don’t manage to get into the 2023 class.

Please consider applying for one of our traditional art apprenticeships.  Any traditional art form is eligible. Applicants must be Chilkoot tribal members.