Alaska Federation of Natives Brings An Opportunity to Pass On Tradition


by Russ Slaten

Original Air Date: October 18, 2012

ANCHORAGE - Every year the Alaska Federation of Natives incorporates native arts and crafts. At this year's convention, renowned Tlingit Carver Israel Shotridge is passing on tradition.

Israel Shotridge, a Tlingit member of the bear clan from Ketchikan now based in Vashon, Wash., has carved totem poles throughout Southeast Alaska. One Shotridge's goals is to preserve the art of traditional Tlingit carving, and teaching others is one avenue.

24-year-old Alin Vale of Yakutat, one of the northernmost Tlingit settlements, is learning the cultural tradition of wood carving through Shotridge. After starting to carve, Vale says he would like to reintroduce history to his hometown.

"Growing up without those totem poles to go and look at, and now having this opportunity to learn the carving, I just think it would be great to get some of that back home," said Vale.

Shotridge and Vale are working to create a chief's head dress for the Yakutat Mount St. Elias Dancers. As vale takes in more cultural tradtions, he says people should never forget their roots.

"I feel pretty good about what I'm learning right now, and it's very important. It's never too late to learn the language, it's never too late to get involved in a dance group, it's doesn't matter how old you are it's never too late," said Vale.

Go to to see the work of Israel Shortridge.

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