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Raven with the sun in his beak
Image courtesy of Brian Wallace and the Juneau Empire

The Raven “figurehead” that adorns the bow of the canoe holds a copper-disk representing the sun in its beak. It was Raven who stole sunlight and brought it to the world for human beings.

Join us for a special program to celebrate the arrival of the “Raven Canoe,” a beautifully carved, 26-foot Tlingit dug-out canoe, hand-crafted for the Museum for display in the Sant Ocean Hall opening on September 27. Suspended from the ceiling alongside the life-size model of an endangered Northern Right Whale, the Raven’s Canoe will be one of the most compelling artifacts within the ocean hall. Master carver Douglas Chilton from Juneau, Alaska, hand-crafted the canoe with the cooperation and over-sight of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of southeast Alaska (

raven canoe in the water
Photograph courtesy of the carver, Douglas “Kevin” Chilton, Juneau, Alaska
Painted black with a bold raven design on the bow and stern and boasting a beautifully carved Raven “figurehead,” the canoe celebrates the enduring relationship between Native Alaskans of the Northwest Coast and the bounty of the sea. For centuries intrepid Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian mariners have voyaged the length and breadth of the Alaskan and Canadian Pacific coastline as traders, raiders, and celebrants in a complex web of social and economic relations predicated on their intimate knowledge of their maritime landscape and the mastery of their sailing and navigational skills.


Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2:00 p.m.

Welcome and Introductions: Dr. Stephen Loring, Curator, Department of Anthropology

2:05 p.m.

Welcome: Dr. Dan Rogers, Chairman, Department of Anthropology Introduction of Chris McNeil

2:10 p.m.

Chris McNeil (President and CEO of Sealaska Corporation) Tree Ceremony video (a brief account of the ceremonies involved in cutting the tree that became the great canoe)

2:30 p.m.

Rosita Worl, President Sealaska Heritage Institute Introduction of Tlingit Elder and Spokesman, Clarence Jackson (Clan Leader of the Tsaagweidí Clan of Kake)

2:55 p.m.

Presentation by Dr. Stephen Loring, Curator, Department of Anthropology, on the history of Northwest Coast canoes at the Smithsonian Institution “The voyage to Washington: great canoes from the Northwest Coast at the Smithsonian Institution.”

3:20 p.m.

Presentation by Eric Hollinger, Department of Anthropology, and Aron Crowell, Arctic Studies Center, Anchorage “From the ancestors to the present day: Smithsonian consultation and collaboration with the Tlingit Community of southeast Alaska”


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