Kayaaní Commission to host annual meeting on Monday, Jan. 6

The Kayaaní Commission, which is coordinated by Sitka Tribe of Alaska in partnership with other groups in Sitka, will host its annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 6, at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Resources Protection Building, 429 Katlian Street. The public is invited to attend. On the agenda will be elections.

The Kayaaní Commission is a group of knowledgeable community members and tribal citizens who are concerned with preserving and protecting plants and the traditional ways they are used. It started meeting in 1997 after the USDA Forest Service created a “special forest products” category for non-timber products in the Alaska region that included many of the traditional plants gathered by Alaska Natives for food, medicine and other purposes.

The meetings provided a way for the tribe to share its knowledge and customary practices using these roots, berries, bark, fungi, and other plants with federal and state agencies, so the agencies are less likely to make regulations that prevent their harvest. The Kayaaní Commission also discusses ways to sustainably harvest these plants, so the remain a vital part of our landscape. These efforts are supported by the Forest Service, Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP), Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood (ANB/ANS), National Park Service, (NPS), Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center (SEAICC) and many other interested parties and individuals along the way.

For more information, please contact Tammy Young at 747-7167 or tammy.young@sitkatribe-nsn.gov.

• Sitka to host three-day Gathering in conjunction with two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

This month Sitka will host a two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course on May 19-30, and as part of that course there will be a three-day UAF Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program All-Hands Gathering for stakeholders on May 29-31 held in conjunction with the class. As part of the Gathering, there will be a couple of events open to Sitka residents interested in ethnobotany and the uses of local plants.

The Gathering is sponsored by the Ethnobotany Certification Program of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel), and the Gathering will serve as a chance for stakeholders (students, instructors, elders, colleagues) to to get together to celebrate the program’s first five years, plan the next five years, and network with each other.

The schedule is still being finalized, but the first public event will be on Thursday, May 29, when the 10 ethnobotany class students will make their presentations from 3-5 and 6-8 p.m. (with a break for a bring-your-own dinner) in Room 229 of the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

At 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, May 31, keynote speaker Anore Jones (author of Plants That We Eat) will  share her passion for traditional foods of the subarctic. This event will be at the Yaw Classroom at the Sitka Fine Arts Campus.

The Gathering will conclude at 5:30-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, with a community potluck dinner/local foods feast and Native dancing at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi. This event will feature a Native chant from our Hawaiian friends, vending tables, as well as music from the Sitka rock band Slack Tide. The Gathering will provide a main course, some desserts and beverages for this event, and people are encouraged to bring side dishes featuring local food.

For more information, contact Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Coordinator Rose Meier, PhD, at 1-907-474-6935 (voice), 1-907-474-5952 (fax) or by email at rameier@alaska.edu.

EBOT Public Flyer final

• Sitka to host two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course for college credit

EBOT 100 flyer 2014

Sitka will be the site of a two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany summer fieldwork course May 19-30 offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel).

The Ethnobotany Certificate Program operated by the UAF Kuskokwim Campus is the first such program in this state and only one of a handful that are currently being offered in the entire United States. Ethnobotany is integral to life in Alaska because it recognizes cultural knowledge and deepens our connection with the expansive and exceptional natural world at our doorstep.

Students enrolled in the EBOT program will learn basic plant biology and floral ecology of Alaska, economic applications of ethnobotany, basic applied chemistry of plants, research methods for local specific projects, as well as traditional and new uses of Alaska native plants. These skills will prepare Alaska Native students for employment in wildlife and cultural management agencies, education, and other rural-based jobs, as well as further college milestones such as the associate’s and bachelor’s of
science degrees.

The Sitka-based class EBOT 100, “Introduction to Ethnobotany,” will discuss the relationships between people and plants in the Sitka region as well as other parts of Alaska and the rest of the world. People relate to plants in many ways, for example, by eating them, using them as medicine, naming them and telling stories about them.

To give you an idea of the types of things we’ll discuss, we have included a few sample pages from our ethnobotany program’s upcoming book on the ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, in Western Alaska. This will give you a feeling for how people of a different region relate to a few species you may also have in your area. Please read the descriptions on the EBOT program website of fireweed, Labrador tea and cloud berry. Then you can take a short quiz to see what you learned, and what you already know about plants and the study of how people use them.

The three-credit class (biology credits) costs $600 for tuition, books and materials, but there are scholarships available for Alaska-based students enrolled in the EBOT certificate program. In addition to the class, there will be a three-day program stakeholder meeting that will end on May 31 with a local foods dinner.

Registration forms for the class and the ethnobotany program are linked below. For more information, contact Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Coordinator Rose Meier, PhD, at 1-907-474-6935 (voice), 1-907-474-5952 (fax) or by email at rameier@alaska.edu.

• Kuskokwim Campus Introduction to Ethnobotany 100 (Sitka) course application 2014

• Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Application 2014

• UAF College of Rural and Community Development Registration Form

• Kayaaní Commission accepting letters of interest for commissioners.


Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s Kayaaní Commission is accepting letters of interest to fill two open commissioner seats — a three-year term tribal citizen seat, and a one-year term general membership seat.

The Kayaaní Commission works to preserve and protect plants and the traditional ways they are used. It is a commission of knowledgeable tribal citizens, elders and knowledgeable Sitka residents who care for the preservation of traditional ways, protection of native species and their uses. The commission then shares that knowledge so it is not lost. A few years ago, the Kayaaní Commission published The Kayaaní Commission Ethnobotany Field Guide to Selective Plants in Sitka, Alaska, which details some of the food and medicinal uses of a variety of local plants.

For the open commission seats, the term “tribal citizen” shall mean any individual enrolled at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the term “general membership” of the Kayaani Commission shall mean all tribal citizens and residents of Sitka who have resided here for at least six months. Deadline is close of business on Friday, March 28.

Please mail or hand deliver letters of interest to the STA’s Resource Protection Department, 456 Katlian Street, Sitka, AK 99835, Attention: Heather Riggs, or email letters to heather.riggs@sitkatribe-nsn.gov. For more information, please contact Heather @ 747-7167.

• Endless Summer Ecological Garden and Landscape is a new service for Sitka gardeners

Tracy Sylvester (left) and Jesse Remund staff the Endless Summer Ecological Garden and Landscape information booth at Let's Grow Sitka on March 14, 2010

Tracy Sylvester (left) and Jesse Remund staff the Endless Summer Ecological Garden and Landscape information booth at Let's Grow Sitka on March 14, 2010

Jesse Remund and Tracy Sylvester are offering a new service to Sitka with their Endless Summer Ecological Garden and Landscape company.

Jesse and Tracy say they can help Sitka gardeners take local food to a new level. They will help local gardeners grow vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants by providing expertise and grunt labor. They introduced their new service at the “Let’s Grow Sitka!” garden show event on March 14 at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

The pair will help Sitka residents with garden and landscape planning, planting, growing and maintenance, and harvesting. They believe, “A smart landscape is not only beautiful, it conserves water and energy, creates habitat for birds and other living organisms, filters pollution, combats global warming and can even provide tasty food for your plate!”

To learn more about their service, call 738-5377 or e-mail EndlessSummerEcological@gmail.com. Rates will depend on the job. Their main focus is on vegetable gardens.

• 2010 Kayaaní Commission calendars are available for sale


The 2010 Kayaaní Commission calendars are available from Sitka Tribe of Alaska for $16 each. These full-color calendars feature photos and information about many common edible and medicinal plants found in the Sitka area. Also available are copies of “The Kayaaní Commission Ethnobotany Field Guide to Selected Plants Found In Sitka, Alaska,” which cost $15 each. Proceeds from the sale of these two publications go to the Kayaaní Commission to help preserve traditional Tlingít plant knowledge.

The mission of the Kayaaní Commission is “to preserve our spiritual way of life. The religion of the Tlingít is the Earth. The Tlingít are one with the Earth. The Kayaaní Commission is here to preserve and protect traditional ways of our ancestral knowledge.” The Kayaaní Commission is sponsored by Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the Sitka National Historical Park.

Calendar and field guide purchases can be made at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska main building (456 Katlian St.) or the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Resources Protection Dept. (429 Katlian St.), or by calling 907-747-7178 or e-mailing pbass@sitkatribe.org. Please make checks payable to the STA Kayaaní Commission.


• Herbal medicine workshop to be taught Sept. 4-6 at UAS-Sitka Campus

“Native American Herbal Medicines: Going Into The Woods,” a workshop teaching about the harvest, preparation and use of medicinal plants in Southeast Alaska, will take place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 4-6, at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus.

The emphasis will be on treatment based on Native American and other approaches to acute disorders, with some discussion of chrinic illnesses. The focus will be on external remedies, including wild herbal oils, salves, ointments, foot baths and more.

The class fee is $149. For more information or to register, call the UAS-Sitka Campus Continuing Education and Professional Development office at 747-7762.

• Movie ‘Eating Alaska’ to be shown July 16

The publicity poster for the movie Eating Alaska

The publicity poster for the movie Eating Alaska

The movie, “Eating Alaska,” will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, at the Kettleson Memorial Library in Sitka. The movie is free. “Eating Alaska” is a documentary movie by Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein about how Alaskans make their food choices. In addition to the movie, other Sitka residents will be on hand to discuss the harvesting and drying of seaweed, local medicinal plants, wild edibles and cultivating wild plants.

Click here to go to the “Eating Alaska” movie Web site.