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Jan Steinbright Jackson

Jan Steinbright Jackson was interviewed on December 9, 1998 by Karen Brewster and Kristen Griffin in the Regalia Room at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska. While the hope was to do the interview in Jan's office at the Cultural Center, the noise from the silver carver's grinding machine next door was too loud and would disrupt the tape recording, so the interview was done in another office in the building. We stopped by to see if she would have time for an interview later that day, and she said the only time she had was right then. So, we quickly set-up the recording equipment and started talking. Despite not having time to reflect on the topics and think about what she wanted to say, Jan was relaxed and did an excellent job of expressing her views and providing important information about the Cultural Center. In this interview, Jan talks about her work as the director of the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, the important role the facility has played in Native arts cultural preservation in Alaska, and the programs they operate to demonstrate and educate visitors about Native arts. She also discusses the Cultural Center's current projects, how artists are chosen and what they do at the Center, the importance of the Center to Alaska Native artists, the relationship between the Center and the community of Sitka, and the role of elders in the Center. As an artist herself, Jan advocates for the importance of art as a form of creative and cultural expression.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-39-04

Project: Sitka National Historical Park
Date of Interview: Dec 9, 1998
Narrator(s): Jan Steinbright Jackson
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Kristen Griffin
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) The mission of and programs at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center

2) Arts programs at the Cultural Center

3) Special projects at the Cultural Center

4) Protocol for Tlingit ceremonies, and the canoe carving project

5) Artists working at the Cultural Center, and the Center's relationship with Sitka National Historical Park

6) The Cultural Center's collections and their preservation and use

7) The Cultural Center's role in the Alaskan Native art community

8) How the Cultural Center funds its programs

9) The Cultural Center's influence on local Tlingit art, and its role in educating visitors

10) Benefits the Cultural Center offers Park visitors

11) The importance of involving elders in the Cultural Center's activities, and the unity which cultural activities provide

12) The meaning of and stories behind the carving of totem poles

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Section 1: Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center/ Executive Director/ technical assistance workshop/ Native Arts/ education/ Northwest Coast Peoples -- culture of/ Artists in Residence/ interpretive program/ cultural resources|

Section 2: tradition bearers/ artists -- contact with/ art classes/ apprenticeships/ National Endowment for the Arts|

Section 3: totem pole/ ancestors -- honoring/ Indian River/ totem pole -- commemoration/ Russian occupation/ clans/ Kaagwaantaan/ Kiks.ádi/ Coho/ workshops -- protocol/ relations -- clans/ relations -- kinship/ history/ protocol -- ceremony/ party -- terms/ potlatch/ Tlingit/ protocol -- variance|

Section 4: protocol -- definition/ ceremony/ balance/ Eagle/ Raven/ clans/ Tlingit/ Tsimshian/ Haida/ party -- rules/ carving/ canoe -- cedar/ Prince of Wales Island/ Sealaska Corporation/ Burkhart, Will/ Price, Wayne/ canoe -- naming/ protocol -- canoe|

Section 5: artists -- selection of/ artists -- employment of/ classes -- teaching of/ studio space -- use of/ Sitka/ Cultural Center -- role in community/ Sitka National Historical Park/ National Park Service -- support of/ organization -- non-profit/ organization -- Native/ community -- connection to/ exhibits|

Section 6: art -- collection/ audio -- collection/ video -- collection/ National Park Service -- relationship with/ research/ art/ Cultural Center -- use of|

Section 7: Alaska State Council on the Arts/ Cultural Centers -- Native/ networking/ organization -- grassroots/ art -- Native/ Native community/ National Park Service -- relationship with/ Bethel/ Barrow/ Ketchikan/ Totem Heritage Center/ Alaska Native Heritage Center/ Anchorage/ Cook Inlet Regional Corporation/ tourism/ local community/ Indian/ Aleut/ Eskimo|

Section 8: Institute of Alaska Native Art (IANA)/ cultural center -- statewide/ funding/ Congress/ Sitka National Historical Park/ grants/ National Endowment for the Arts/ canoe -- carving/ workshops/ Heritage Preservation Fund/ canoe -- video/ Alaska State Museum/ inventory/ Cultural Center -- establishment of/ Cultural Center -- first of its type|

Section 9: Tlingit/ art -- influences on/ Cultural Center -- importance to artists/ Northwest Coast art/ "Sitka style"/ Juneau/ Haines/ art -- Tlingit/ art -- historic/ art -- contemporary/ visitors/ art -- connections between past and present/ exhibits|

Section 10: Cultural Center/ visitors/ Totem Walk/ artists -- contemporary/ interpretation -- artist/ education -- visitor/ education -- culture|

Section 11: Elders -- importance of/ advisory committee/ canoe/ Elders -- feeding of/ quot;warming the handsquot;/ clan leaders -- appointment of/ clan houses/ elders -- involvement of/ totem pole/ celebration/ clan unity/ celebration -- reason for/ totem pole -- meaning of/ totem pole -- raising|

Section 12: Old Kassan/ totem pole -- meaning of/ storytelling/ totem pole -- carving/ culture -- relation to/ oral history|