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Tlingit Art, Spirit, and Ancestry: Healing Histories of Dispossession

February 10, 2023 · 1:30 pm4:30 pm · Chancellor Green Rotunda

Land, Language, and Art: A Humanities Council Global Initiative; Princeton University Art Museum
Tlingit lidded basket, before 1883. Photograph courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum

In the late nineteenth century, Presbyterian missionaries brought hundreds of Tlingit belongings from southeastern Alaska to the Princeton Theological Seminary. The belongings were later relocated to Princeton University’s collections. The movement of these Tlingit belongings between multiple institutions reflects an ongoing condition of broken knowledge.

Where does Tlingit art belong at Princeton University, and how might knowledge be restored to those from whom the items were taken? This symposium explores this question by reuniting Tlingit scholars and artists with these belongings. Our symposium will confront histories of dispossession and ask how we can restore ancestral connections. Speakers will reorient Western understandings of material objects towards Tlingit and Indigenous experiences of embodiment, spirituality, land, and kinship. Organizers envision this symposium as the beginning of an ongoing partnership between Princeton University and the University of Alaska Southeast.


Ernestine Saankaláxt Hayes, Kaagwaantaan Clan, Tlingit Nation, author and Emerita Professor, University of Alaska Southeast

Judith Daxootsú Ramos, Kwáashk’ikwáan Clan, Yaakwdáat Kwáan, Tlingit Nation, Program Coordinator, Haa Yoo X’atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathway, University of Alaska Southeast

Guná Megan Jensen, Dakhká Tlingit and Tagish Khwáan Ancestry from the Dahk’laweidi Clan, Tlingit artist

Wayne Price, Tlingit master carver and Northwest Coast artist of Haines, Alaska

Carin Silkaitis, Dean of School of Arts and Sciences, University of Alaska Southeast

Liz Zacher, Associate Professor of Art, University of Alaska Southeast


  • Land, Language, and Art: A Humanities Council Global Initiative
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton
  • Princeton University Art Museum
  • Effron Center for the Study of America
  • Fund for Canadian Studies
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