Sabena Elisabeth Allen

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10586

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Allen, Sabena (Chicago, U. of) "The Importance of Haa Kuusteeyí – 'Our Way of Life': Tlingit Survivance Through Ongoing Apocalypse"

This project investigates climate change, settler colonialism, and Indigenous knowledge in the context of southeast Alaska. It considers how the long history of catastrophe in the region has shaped Tlingit cultural practices, including during settler colonialism and current moments of climate change. Disruption and change have fundamentally shaped Tlingit history, as recounted in clan stories containing key cultural knowledge. Settler colonialism, as a recent ongoing catastrophe, led to the formation of tribal governments and corporations. While these spaces are often labeled as assimilationist, actions regarding cultural vitality and sustainability based in Tlingit values and lifeways suggest a more complex story. Tlingit people continue to practice cultural activities within and outside of these institutional spaces, enacting ancestral knowledge. Many activities are now being disrupted by climate change, prompting activist and institutional intervention. Sitka, Alaska is a nexus of these activities and will be the central location of my fieldwork. In determining how traditional values and stories are being invoked I ask: What does it mean to enact Tlingit cultural practices in this moment? How do these practices create alterities that shape community responses to climate change? I will explore these themes through ethnographic observation in community, corporate, non-profit, and tribal spaces.