Sealaska Heritage Institute's work on the Tlingit language was
chosen by a federal humanities agency as one of 50 projects in the
country that has enriched and shaped American lives during the last
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) singled out
SHI's efforts to document and revitalize the Tlingit language as
part of its 50-year anniversary celebration and is featuring 50
projects on its "Celebrating
50 Years" website that represent the best of the work the agency
SHI President Rosita Worl called the announcement humbling and
"It's quite an honor to be included among some of the top notch
work featured by the NEH," said Worl. "And it is gratifying for
our institute to be recognized for work deemed to have enriched
The top 50 projects span a wide range of subject matter, such
as the Civil War, King Tut, Verdi, Mark Twain and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
SHI's project is titled "Saving
an Endangered Language" and the site includes a summary of the
institute's work, which began in the 1980s when the nonprofit was
founded. The NEH has been a key grantor on some of SHI's language
"Thanks to the concerted efforts of SHI scholars, Tlingit speakers,
and others, the language is being revived," the summary reads. "Linguists
and anthropologists from all over the world have come to Alaska
to learn from the work being done on Tlingit. The project has become
role model of language restoration success."
An Endangered Language
The Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest have a rich and complex
culture, much of which has been preserved orally. Generations of
oppression and marginalization have taken a heavy toll and the Tlingit
language could have vanished completely. But NEH grants are keeping
the language and culture alive.
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.