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Sealaska Heritage Institute receives grant to study historic Tlingit recordings


Oldest recordings date to early 1900s

 

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has received a federal grant to research and migrate old Tlingit language recordings to a format that will make them more accessible to modern-day Native language students and scholars.

The $150,000, two-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will allow SHI to migrate more than one hundred recordings of people speaking Tlingit from an old format to a digital format, said SHI Archivist Zachary Jones. Recordings with the potential to aid language studnts and educators will be placed online.

“We’re very excited about this grant because it not only helps us with our archival collections, but it also helps us with our language,” Jones said.

The oldest Tlingit recordings date to the early 1900s, and historic Tlingit recordings from that era will undergo a review. SHI will contract fluent Tlingit speakers to listen to the recordings and provide detailed information on topics such as traditional ecological knowledge and Tlingit history.

“It will help document the content of them in great detail right down to the clan or clan-house level if possible,” he said.

The grant also will fund an internship program between the institute and the University of Alaska Southeast, allowing undergraduate students studying Tlingit language to become involved in this language orientated project. And, it will establish a sharing partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Language Archive, meaning the organizations will donate copies of some materials in their archives to each other.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a regional nonprofit representing the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures. SHI maintains a large collection of archival materials that document the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures.

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