Chief Anotklosh of the Taku Tribe, wearing a Chilkat blanket, Juneau, Alaska, c. 1913
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (Alaska)||14,000|
|Canada (British Columbia, Yukon)||2,110|
|English, Tlingit, Russian (historically)|
|Christianity, esp. Russian Orthodox, traditional Alaska Native religion|
| Lingít |
"People of the Tides"
The Tlingit (English: /, / ⓘ TLING-kit, KLING-kit; also spelled Tlinkit) are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their language is the Tlingit language (natively Lingít, pronounced [ɬɪ̀nkɪ́tʰ] ), in which the name means 'People of the Tides'. The Russian name Koloshi (Колоши, from a Sugpiaq-Alutiiq term kulut'ruaq for the labret worn by women) or the related German name Koulischen may be encountered referring to the people in older historical literature, such as Grigory Shelikhov's 1796 map of Russian America. Tlingit people today belong to two federally recognized Alaska Native tribes: the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe.
The Tlingit have a matrilineal kinship system, with children considered born into the mother's clan, and property and hereditary roles passing through the mother's line.Their culture and society developed in the temperate rainforest of the southeast Alaskan coast and the Alexander Archipelago. The Tlingit maintained a complex hunter-gatherer culture based on semi-sedentary management of fisheries. Hereditary slavery was practiced extensively until it was outlawed by the United States. An inland group, known as the Inland Tlingit, inhabits the far northwestern part of the province of British Columbia and the southern Yukon in Canada.
The greatest territory historically occupied by the Tlingit extended from the Portland Canal along the present border between Alaska and British Columbia, north to the coast just southeast of the Copper River delta in Alaska.The Tlingit occupied almost all of the Alexander Archipelago, except the southernmost end of Prince of Wales Island and its surroundings, where the Kaigani Haida moved just before the first encounters with European explorers.
The Coastal Tlingit tribes controlled one of the mountain passes into the Yukon interior; they were divided into three tribes: the Chilkat Tlingit (Jilḵáat Ḵwáan) along the Chilkat River and on Chilkat Peninsula, the Chilkoot Tlingit (Jilḵoot Ḵwáan) and the Taku Tlingit (Tʼaaḵu Ḵwáan:) along the Taku River.
Inland, the Tlingit occupied areas along the major rivers that pierce the Coast Mountains and Saint Elias Mountains and flow into the Pacific, including the Alsek, Tatshenshini, Chilkat, Taku, and Stikine rivers. With regular travel up these rivers, the Tlingit developed extensive trade networks with Athabascan tribes of the interior, and commonly intermarried with them. From this regular travel and trade, a few relatively large populations of Tlingit settled around Atlin, Teslin, and Tagish Lakes, whose headwaters flow from areas near the headwaters of the Taku River.
Delineating the modern territory of the Tlingit is complicated because they are spread across the border between the United States and Canada, they lack designated reservations, other complex legal and political concerns make the situation confusing, and there is a relatively high level of mobility among the population. They also overlap in territory with various Athabascan peoples, such as the Tahltan, Kaska and Tagish. In Canada, the modern communities of Atlin, British Columbia (Taku River Tlingit),Teslin, Yukon (Teslin Tlingit Council), and Carcross, Yukon (Carcross/Tagish First Nation) have reserves and are the representative Interior Tlingit populations.
The territory occupied by the modern Tlingit people in Alaska is not restricted to particular reservations, unlike most tribes in the lower contiguous 48 states. This is the result of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which established regional corporations throughout Alaska with complex portfolios of land ownership rather than bounded reservations administered by tribal governments. The corporation in the Tlingit region is Sealaska Corporation, which serves the Tlingit as well as the Haida and Tsimshian in Alaska.
Tlingit people as a whole participate in the commercial economy of Alaska. As a consequence, they live in typically American nuclear family households with private ownership of housing and land. Many also possess land allotments from Sealaska or from earlier distributions predating ANCSA. Despite the legal and political complexities, the territory historically occupied by the Tlingit can be reasonably designated as their modern homeland. Tlingit people today consider the land from around Yakutat south through the Alaskan Panhandle, and including the lakes in the Canadian interior, as being Lingít Aaní, the Land of the Tlingit.
The extant Tlingit territory can be roughly divided into four major sections, paralleling ecological, linguistic, and cultural divisions:
The trade and cultural interactions between each of these Tlingit groups and their disparate neighbors, the differences in food harvest practices, and dialectal differences in language contribute to these identifications. These academic classifications are supported by similar self-identification among the Tlingit.
|Tlingit tribe||IPA||Translation||Village or Community location||Anglicized, archaic variants or adaptations|
|G̱alyáx̱ Ḵwáan||qaɬjáχqʰʷáːn||Salmon Stream Tribe||Yakataga-Controller Bay area||Kaliakh|
|Xunaa Ḵáawu||χʊnaːkʰáːwʊ||Tribe or People from the Direction of the North Wind||Hoonah||Hoonah people|
|S'awdáan Ḵwáan||sʼawdáːnqʰʷáːn||From S'oow ('jade') daa ('around'), aan ('land/country/village') because the bay is the color of jade all around||Sedum||Sumdum|
|Tʼaḵjik.aan Ḵwáan:||tʼaqtʃikʔaːnqʰʷáːn||Coast Town Tribe||northern Prince of Wales Island||Tuxekan|
|Laax̱aayík Kwáan:||ɬaːχaːjíkqʰʷáːn||Inside the Glacier People||Yakutat area||Yakutat|
|Tʼaaḵu Ḵwáan:||tʼaːqʰuqʰʷáːn||Geese Flood Upriver Tribe||Taku||Taku Tlingit, Taku people|
|Xutsnoowú (a.k.a. Xudzidaa) Ḵwáan||xutsnuːwúqʰʷáːn||Brown Bear Fort a.k.a. Burnt Wood Tribe||Angoon||Hootchenoo people, Hoochenoo, Kootznahoo|
|Hinyaa Ḵwáan||hinjaːqʰʷáːn||Tribe From Across The Water||Klawock||Henya|
|G̱unaax̱oo Ḵwáan||qunaːχuːqʰʷáːn||Among The Athabascans Tribe||Dry Bay||Gunahoo people, Dry Bay people|
|Deisleen Ḵwáan:||tesɬiːnqʰʷáːn||Big Sinew Tribe||Teslin||Teslin Tlingit, Teslin people, Inland Tlinkit|
|Shee Tʼiká (a.k.a. Sheetʼká) Ḵwáan||ʃiːtʼkʰáqʰʷáːn||Outside Edge of a Branch Tribe||Sitka||Sitka, Shee Atika|
|Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan||ʃtaxʼhíːnqʰʷáːn||Bitter Water Tribe||Wrangell||Stikine people, Stikine Tlingit|
|Séet Ká Ḵwáan||séːtʰkʰʌ́qʰʷáːn||People of the Fast Moving Water||Petersburg||Séet Ká Ḵwáan|
|Jilḵáat Ḵwáan||tʃiɬqʰáːtqʰʷáːn||From Chaal ('food cache') xhaat ('salmon') khwaan ('dwellers'): Salmon Cache Tribe||Klukwan||Chilkat people|
|Áa Tlein Ḵwáan||ʔáːtɬʰeːnqʰʷáːn||Big Lake Tribe||Atlin||Taku River Tlingit, Inland Tlinkit|
|Ḵéex̱ʼ Kwáan||qʰíːχʼqʰʷáːn||Dawn Tribe||Kake||Kake people|
|Taantʼa Ḵwáan||tʰaːntʼaqʰʷáːn||Sea Lion Tribe||Fort Tongass (formerly) & Ketchikan (today)||Tongass people|
|Jilḵoot Ḵwáan||tʃiɬqʰuːtqʰʷáːn||Chilkoot Tribe||Haines||Chilkoot people|
|Áakʼw Ḵwáan||ʔáːkʷʼqʰʷáːn||Small Lake Tribe||Auke Bay||Auke people|
|Kooyu Ḵwáan||kʰuːjuqʰʷáːn||Stomach Tribe||Kuiu Island||Kuiu people|
|Saanyaa Ḵwáan||saːnjaːqʰʷáːn||Southward Tribe||Cape Fox Village (formerly) & Saxman (today)||Saanya Kwaan, owns Saxman Corporation, which owns Cape Fox Corporation|
The Tlingit culture is multifaceted and complex, a characteristic of Northwest Pacific Coast people with access to easily exploited rich resources. In Tlingit culture a heavy emphasis is placed upon family and kinship, and on a rich oratory tradition. Wealth and economic power are important indicators of rank, but so is generosity and proper behavior, all signs of "good breeding" and ties to aristocracy. Art and spirituality are incorporated in nearly all areas of Tlingit culture, with even everyday objects such as spoons and storage boxes decorated and imbued with spiritual power and historical beliefs of the Tlingits.
Tlingit society is divided into two moieties, the Raven and the Eagle. These in turn are divided into numerous clans, which are subdivided into lineages or house groups. They have a matrilineal kinship system, with descent and inheritance passed through the mother's line. These groups have heraldic crests, which are displayed on totem poles, canoes, feast dishes, house posts, weavings, jewelry, and other art forms. at.oow(s) or blankets that represented trust. Only a Tlingit can inherit one but they can also pass it down to someone they trust, who becomes responsible for caring for it but does not rightfully own it.The Tlingits pass down
Like other Northwest Coast native peoples, the Tlingit did practice hereditary slavery.
Tlingit thought and belief, although never formally codified, was historically a fairly well organized philosophical and religious system whose basic axioms shaped the way Tlingit people viewed and interacted with the world around them. Tlingits were traditionally animists, and hunters ritually purified themselves before hunting animals. Shamans, primarily men, cured diseases, influenced weather, aided in hunting, predicted the future, and protected people against witchcraft.A central part of the Tlingit belief system was the belief in reincarnation of both humans and animals.
Between 1886 and 1895, in the face of their shamans' inability to treat Old World diseases including smallpox, many Tlingit people converted to Orthodox Christianity.Russian Orthodox missionaries had translated their liturgy into the Tlingit language. It has been argued that they saw Eastern Orthodox Christianity as a way of resisting assimilation to the "American way of life", which was associated with Presbyterianism. After the introduction of Christianity, the Tlingit belief system began to erode.
Today, some young Tlingits look back towards their traditional tribal religions and worldview for inspiration, security, and a sense of identity. While many elders converted to Christianity, contemporary Tlingit "reconcile Christianity and the 'traditional culture.'"
The Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Western Canada speak the Tlingit language (Lingít [ɬɪ̀nkítʰ] ), which is a branch of the Na-Dené language family. Lingít has a complex grammar and sound system and also uses certain phonemes unheard in almost any other language.
Tlingit has an estimated 200 to 400 native speakers in the United States and 100 speakers in Canada.The speakers are bilingual or near-bilingual in English. Tribes, institutions, and linguists are expending extensive effort into revitalization programs in Southeast Alaska to revive and preserve the Tlingit language and its culture. Sealaska Heritage Institute, Goldbelt Heritage Institute and the University of Alaska Southeast have Tlingit language programs, and community classes are held in Klukwan and Angoon.
Tlingit tribes historically built plank houses made from cedar and today call them clanhouses; these houses were built with a foundation such that they could store their belongings under the floors. It is said that these plank houses had no adhesive, nails, or any other sort of fastening devices. Clan houses were usually square or rectangular in shape and had front facing designs and totem poles to represent to which clan and moiety the makers belonged.
Many Tlingit men work in the fishing industry while women are employed at canneries or in the local handicraft industry. These handicrafts include items like wood carvings and woven baskets which are sold for practical or tourist consumption.
Various cultures of indigenous people have continuously occupied the Alaska territory for thousands of years, leading to the Tlingit. Human culture with elements related to the Tlingit originated around 10,000 years ago near the mouths of the Skeena and Nass Rivers. The historic Tlingit's first contact with Europeans came in 1741 with Russian explorers. Spanish explorers followed in 1775. Tlingits maintained their independence but suffered from epidemics of smallpox and other infectious diseases brought by the Europeans. [ citation needed ]The 1862 Pacific Northwest smallpox epidemic killed about 60% of the Mainland Tlingit and 37% of the Island Tlingit.
Food is a central part of Tlingit culture, and the land is an abundant provider. Most of the richness of intertidal life found on the beaches of Southeast Alaska can be harvested for food. Though eating off the beach could provide a fairly healthy and varied diet, eating nothing but "beach food" is considered contemptible among the Tlingit and a sign of poverty. Indeed, shamans and their families were required to abstain from all food gathered from the beach, and men might avoid eating beach food before battles or strenuous activities in the belief that it would weaken them spiritually and perhaps physically as well. Thus for both spiritual reasons as well as to add some variety to the diet, the Tlingit harvest many other resources for food besides those they easily find outside their front doors. No other food resource receives as much emphasis as salmon; however, seal and game are both close seconds.
Halibut, shellfish, and seaweed traditionally provided food in the spring, while late spring and summer bring seal and salmon. Summer is a time for gathering wild and tame berries, such as salmonberry, soap berry, and currants.In fall, sea otters are hunted. Herring and eulachon are also important staples, that can be eaten fresh or dried and stored for later use. Fish provide meat, oil, and eggs. Sea mammals, such as sea lions and sea otters, are used for food and clothing materials. In the forests near their homes, Tlingit hunted deer, bear, mountain goats and other small mammals.
Genetic analyses of HLA I and HLA II genes as well as HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1 gene frequencies links the Ainu people of Japan to some Indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially to populations on the Pacific Northwest Coast such as Tlingit. The scientists suggest that the main ancestor of the Ainu and of the Tlingit can be traced back to Paleolithic groups in Southern Siberia.
The Tlingit language is spoken by the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Western Canada and is a branch of the Na-Dene language family. Extensive effort is being put into revitalization programs in Southeast Alaska to revive and preserve the Tlingit language and culture.
The Taku River is a river running from British Columbia, Canada, to the northwestern coast of North America, at Juneau, Alaska. The river basin spreads across 27,500 square kilometres (10,600 sq mi). The Taku is a very productive salmon river and its drainage basin is primarily wilderness.
The Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) is a First Nation band government in the central Yukon in Canada, located in Teslin, Yukon along the Alaska Highway and Teslin Lake. The language originally spoken by the Teslin Tlingit or Deisleen Ḵwáan is Tlingit. Together with the Taku River Tlingit or Áa Tlein Ḵwáan around Atlin Lake of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation in British Columbia, and carcross tagish first nation or natasaaheeni, they comprise the Inland Tlingit.
The Teslin River is a river in southern Yukon Territory and northwestern British Columbia, Canada, that flows 632 kilometres (393 mi) from its source south of Teslin Lake to its confluence with the Yukon River.
Sealaska Corporation is one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) in settlement of aboriginal land claims. Headquartered in Juneau, Alaska, Sealaska is a for-profit corporation with more than 23,000 Alaska Native shareholders primarily of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian descent.
Nora Marks Keixwnéi Dauenhauer was a Tlingit poet, short-story writer, and Tlingit language scholar from Alaska. She won an American Book Award for Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 And 1804. Nora was Alaska State Writer Laureate from 2012 - 2014.
The Taku are an Alaska Native people, a ḵwáan or geographic subdivision of the Tlingit, known in their own language as the Tʼaaḵu Ḵwáan or "Geese Flood Upriver Tribe". The Taku lived along the northwestern coast of North America, in the area that is now the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska, and on the lower basin of the Taku River of the adjoining British Columbia mainland above that river's mouth.
The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast are composed of many nations and tribal affiliations, each with distinctive cultural and political identities. They share certain beliefs, traditions and practices, such as the centrality of salmon as a resource and spiritual symbol, and many cultivation and subsistence practices. The term Northwest Coast or North West Coast is used in anthropology to refer to the groups of Indigenous people residing along the coast of what is now called British Columbia, Washington State, parts of Alaska, Oregon, and Northern California. The term Pacific Northwest is largely used in the American context.
The history of the Tlingit includes pre- and post-contact events and stories. Tradition-based history involved creation stories, the Raven Cycle and other tangentially-related events during the mythic age when spirits transformed back and forth from animal to human and back, the migration story of arrival at Tlingit lands, and individual clan histories. More recent tales describe events near the time of the first contact with Europeans. European and American historical records come into play at that point; although modern Tlingit have access to those historical records, however, they maintain their own record of ancestors and events important to them against the background of a changing world.
Teslin Lake is a large lake spanning the border between British Columbia and Yukon, Canada. It is one of a group of large lakes in the region of far northwestern BC, east of the upper Alaska Panhandle, which are the southern extremity of the basin of the Yukon River, and which are known in Yukon as "the Southern Lakes". The lake is fed and drained primarily by the Teslin River, south and north, but is also fed from the east by the Jennings River and the Swift River, and from the west by the Hayes River.
Chilkat weaving is a traditional form of weaving practiced by Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and other Northwest Coast peoples of Alaska and British Columbia. Chilkat robes are worn by high-ranking tribal members on civic or ceremonial occasions, including dances.
Jennie Thlunaut was a Tlingit artist, who is credited with keeping the art of Chilkat weaving alive and was one of the most celebrated Northwest Coastal master weavers of the 20th century.
Celebration is a biennial Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultural event held during the first week of June in Juneau, Alaska, United States that occurs once every three years.
The Indigenous peoples of Yukon are ethnic groups who, prior to European contact, occupied the former countries now collectively known as Yukon. While most First Nations in the Canadian territory are a part of the wider Dene Nation, there are Tlingit and Métis nations that blend into the wider spectrum of indigeneity across Canada. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, indigenous peoples and their associated nations retain close connections to the land, the rivers and the seasons of their respective countries or homelands. Their histories are recorded and passed down the generations through oral traditions. European contact and invasion brought many changes to the native cultures of Yukon including land loss and non-traditional governance and education. However, indigenous people in Yukon continue to foster their connections with the land in seasonal wage labour such as fishing and trapping. Today, indigenous groups aim to maintain and develop indigenous languages, traditional or culturally-appropriate forms of education, cultures, spiritualities and indigenous rights.
Chilkat or The Chilkat, or Chilkats, may refer to:
Rosita Kaaháni Worl is an American anthropologist and Alaska Native cultural, business and political leader. She is president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a Juneau-based nonprofit organization that preserves and advances the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Native cultures of Southeast Alaska, and has held that position since 1997. She also served on the board of directors of the Sealaska regional Native corporation for 30 years, beginning in 1987, including as board vice president. The corporation, with more than 22,000 shareholders, founded the heritage institute and provides substantial funding.
Lily Hope is an Alaska Native artist, designer, teacher, weaver, Financial Freedom planner, and community facilitator. She is primarily known for her skills at weaving customary Northwest Coast ceremonial regalia such as Chilkat robes and ensembles. She owns a public-facing studio in Juneau, called Wooshkindein Da.àat: Lily Hope Weaver Studio which opened downtown in 2022. Lily Hope is a mother of five children, and works six days a week.
Lani Hotch, also known as Saantaas', Sekwooneitl and Xhaatooch, is a Native American artist of Tlingit ancestry known for being a contemporary Chilkat weaver who uses Ravenstail weaving in her works.
Ellen Hope Hays was the first Alaska Native woman to be appointed superintendent of a national park. During her 16-year career with the National Park Service, she worked to teach and preserve the culture of Alaska Natives.
Ravenstail weaving, also known as Raven's Tail weaving, is a traditional form of geometric weaving-style practiced by Northwest Coast peoples.