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SHI launches Box of Knowledge Occasional Papers: First volume explores Tlingit holdings at international museums

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has launched a series of occasional papers on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian studies in an effort to disseminate research more widely and to circulate work that has not been published.

The series, Box of Knowledge, will include essays or reports by researchers working with the institute, contributions prepared by external experts, and work by staff, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“There’s a whole range of information that just never gets published, and usually they’re written on issues that have immediate importance. And we’ll be able to get that information out very quickly,” Worl said.

The inaugural paper was written by SHI Archivist and Collections Manager Zachary Jones. Clan At.óowu in Distant Lands is an overview of Tlingit collections held by museums in Europe and Russia, and it includes photos of pieces that many people likely have not seen before. (Download from here (9MB))

“Essentially my paper breaks the ground in providing a documentation on where Tlingit art resides in Europe and Russia. It’s something that’s never been done before,” Jones said.

The paper includes a table showing museums that have Tlingit pieces and the approximate sizes of their collections. It also provides some details on the items plus a few photos, including an image of a very unusual war helmet depicting a woman wearing a labret. Jones hopes his paper will prompt people to do more research on the collections.

“Essentially these collections are very understudied, partly because of their distance and location. I hope my paper will contribute to further research on these collections and it can serve as a blueprint for anyone interested in documenting or studying Tlingit art in Europe and Russia,” he said.

The Jones paper includes photos commissioned by SHI of objects at the British Museum. SHI is planning to publish a book on that collection as part of its “visual repatriation” effort to document and show clan at.óowu held in museums around the world.

Ravenstail robe. Collected by Captain James Cook, eighteenth century. British Museum cat. no. AM.NWC.51.

PHOTO:  Brian Wallace, Sealaska Heritage Institute

The series is available at www.sealaskaheritage.org. People who want to submit a paper for consideration should contact Jones at zachary.jones@sealaska.com or 907.586.9261.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit 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.

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