Friday, November 20, 2009


Shamans were spiritual healers, medicine men who practiced witchcraft. Most shamans were believed to be dangerous because bad things happened to those who gave him/her issues. They were also able to see into the future, identify witches who were harming others and traveled to other villages for events or to battle with other shamans. Shamans were the only people in their village who were burried in coffins along with their belongings. They were burried far from their village and were never bothered out of fear and respect.

First thoughts

While I was looking at the objects behind the glass cases, there was one object that caught my attention. To me it seemed somewhere out of place, until I realized how similar this object was to another of my culture. The label indicated that this was a Tlingit dance staff. I took more time to study it and the more I thought about it, the more curious and excited I got. At first, I didn't care. But it isn't just a stick, or an object, because it means something to them. And it's just as important as an eel stick or any other object because every object has a unique history.

Monday, November 16, 2009


The Tlingits had myths and legends about ravens, thunderbirds and other animals. These stories were a benefit to the younger generation because they teached them lessons about life. They also believed in reincarnation, where newborn children were named after a person who recently passed on and shared a similar personality of that person. They cleansed in fresh water so that gaurdian spirits can help them in daily life. And they believed in shamans, medicine men who traveled to other villages for events or to battle with other shamans, who had apprentices to assist them and were the only ones from their village who were burried in boxes with their belongings and were never bothered out of respect and fear. Their culture, as well as every other culture in Alaska, was based on respect. Landon, S. (2002). The Native People of Alaska. Anchorage, AK: Greatland Graphics.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The Tlingit people danced for competition, religion, to tell a story, medicine and entertainment. The robes and masks they wore represented natural and mythical creatures. They portrayed specific movements of certain animals, for example, if a person was dancing a part that was a halibut, their movements would be of a halibut. Women sang and swayed and did not move their feet as much as the men unless there was a specific part for the women. Waterbury, B. (1987). Retrieved October 16, 2009 from

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dance staff

The Tlingit dance staff is an instrument used by the chief or song leader when dancing. The chief or song leader held the staff while dancing, moving it along with the beat of the song and tapping it on the floor. The one in the picture is entirety made of wood. The leaders staff or cane had another name for it depending on the animal that was carved into it. But the one displayed in the Anchorage Museum is made of milled wood, commercial dye and chicken feathers. The reason why I chose this object is because the staff displayed in the Anchorage Museum looks a lot like an eel stick, without the dye and feathers. An eel stick has the same shape and is about the same size and has nails on the sides. An eel stick is used to catch eels. The way you use it is like using a paddle but with rough strokes. You use this tool in early winter through a whole in the ice, just before the eels pass the village. Emmons, G. (1991). The Tlingit Indians. Seattle, WA.