The Sealaska Heritage Institute now has a couple hundred radio recordings from Wrangell dating from the 1960s to 1990s. KSTK’s Ariel Van Cleave explains.
KSTK recently donated approximately 200 reels of audio that document the history and events of the community through interviews and talk shows. Zachary Jones is an Archivist and Collections Manager with SHI. He said the recordings offer insight into what life was like in Wrangell during that time.
“It’s especially great for Sealaska Heritage Institute because it documents a portion of the Native community—the community’s concerns, their culture, their language, their history and their art. But the collection is also really important because it documents the wider community of Wrangell, not just the Native community, and that’s important, too,” Jones said.
He said the recordings will be of use to anyone interested in studying Southeast Alaska because topics range from culture and history to ecology of the area.
“Speakers include the noted Tlingit Elder Walter Soboleff speaking, Native artists, influential individual Esther Shay as well as individuals like the mayor of Wrangell speaking to Congressman Don Young,” Jones said.
SHI plans to digitize the recordings so they can be used by patrons of the archive, which is open to the public. Sealaska Trustee Ethel Lund, who is from Wrangell, points out there is a very limited amount of archival content about the town located in one spot and this is a great opportunity to make the information available to everyone. Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding.