Sealaska Heritage Institute Interns on Revelations and Cultural Connection
Summer in Juneau, Alaska, means another class of interns gets to experience Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) behind-the-scenes. Celebration, research projects, collections housing and youth summer camps gave Breylan Martin, Miranda Worl, Lyndsey Brollini, Leah Urbanski and Leanna Owen insight into SHI’s mission to perpetuate Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture every day. Beyond the day-to-day work experiences, they spent ten weeks surrounded by their Alaska Native culture, learning new skills and solidifying pride in who they are.
Meet the SHI Interns:
Lyndsey: My family comes from Hydaburg, Alaska, but now we reside in Anchorage. I graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Washington this summer.
Miranda: I’m currently living between Juneau – my hometown – and school over on the east coast in Hanover, New Hampshire. I’m Kaagwaantaan (Eagle-Wolf) and Shangukeidí-yádi (child of a Thunderbird).
Leanna: I transferred from South Dakota to the University of Alaska Southeast after my first internship at Sealaska Heritage Institute. I’m majoring in elementary education and history.
Breylan: I am currently a senior at Emory University located in Atlanta, Georgia; however, my family is from Tenakee and Hoonah. I am Raven Moiety, T’akdeintaan Clan, Sockeye House and daughter of the Wooshkeetaan.
Leah: I am studying linguistics modified with Spanish and studio art at Dartmouth College.
On new skills and realizations:
Lyndsey: As I figure out where I want to go after college, this internship has given me more experience on working with media, mostly photography. I’m even more inspired to use my journalism degree to give back to my community.
Leanna: I’ve learned so many new things, from formline art to basket weaving to stories and songs and dances. Alaskan Natives have such a rich culture, and there is so much to learn about it.
Miranda: I’ve gained a lot of new insight into the field of museums and collections. It’s been a great introduction into the field, and I’ve gained a lot of experience working directly with objects in our collections.
Breylan: I have discovered that I am passionate about the preservation of cultural heritage and have decided that I would like to pursue museum work in some capacity. I have learned how to handle objects, create safe storage for various items, complete object reports, write inventories using codified terms and organize donations.
On personal pride and newfound connection to culture:
Lyndsey: With salmon served in the office almost every week, people working on their weaving during breaks, and working in a building filled with Alaska Native art, I feel connected with my people and my culture. Since I did not grow up knowing about my culture, I am inspired to learn more about where I come from.
Leah: I have gained an even more profound realization of how the significance of heritage in my life will continue to grow.
Leanna: Especially during Celebration, it was amazing to be enveloped in the culture.
Miranda: Through my work, I have learned more about the history and significance of the culture I grew up with. It has strengthened my pride for my heritage and my people.
Breylan: I am so proud to be Tlingit and appreciate everyone who has helped me celebrate my identity through sharing knowledge and helping me learn my language. Being constantly surrounded by our living history in this internship gives me excitement for a future that is strengthened by firm roots in our past yet is always growing and evolving.
Apply to Sealaska’s summer internships the first week of January and find out more information on the program here.
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