Sealaska Heritage Institute honored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s work on the Tlingit language was chosen by the federal humanities agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities, as one of 50 projects in the country that has enriched and shaped American lives during the last half century.

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 has funded.

In a press release from SHI, president Rosita Worl called the announcement humbling and rewarding.

“It’s quite an honor to be included among some of the top notch work featured by the NEH,” Worl said. “And it is gratifying for our institute to be recognized for work deemed to have enriched the country.”

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 projects.

“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…the role model of language restoration success.”

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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