Sealaska Heritage Institute
A virtual memorial ceremony has been scheduled for Shangukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan Leader David Katzeek, who Walked Into the Forest on Oct. 28 at the age of 77.
Because of David Katzeek’s significant cultural contributions and decades of service to Southeast Alaska Natives, cultural leaders representing both Eagle and Raven clans met to plan a virtual memorial ceremony with the technical assistance of Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI).
The event marks the first time a traditional memorial ceremony will be held virtually in order to keep the clan leaders, family members and well-wishers safe during the pandemic.
“We know that many of our people are grieving over this great loss, but we also recognized that we need to protect each other and make sure we stay healthy. We also wanted to honor Kingeisti in our traditional way,” said SHI President Rosita Worl
The memorial is scheduled at 3 pm, Thursday, November 5, and will be streamed live on SHI’s YouTube channel. The ceremony is open to the community as we honor David in a safe and virtual format.
The memorial service is a time when leaders from the Raven clans will offer words of comfort and support and display their ancient clan regalia (at.oów) that embody the spirits of their clan ancestors for the grieving members of the Thunderbird and Eagle clans.
Once the Raven clan leaders are done sharing their words of support, the Eagle clan leaders will respond to the Ravens acknowledging and thanking them for their support. This process of balance and reciprocity between the opposite clans is the foundation of Tlingit culture and ceremony and serves to reinforce familial structure and relationships.
During in-person memorial services, members of each clan who are in attendance will stand behind and next to their clan leader as he or she addresses the opposite clan, the ultimate symbol of unity, support, and respect for the grieving clan.
The ceremony concludes once representatives of the Shangukeidí clan (also known as the Thunderbird Chilkat clan of Klukwan) speak and acknowledge the Raven clans (who are essentially the deceased’s father’s clan, grandfather’s clan, and clan in-laws). SHI is sharing the ceremony as a potential model for others hoping to hold their own similar events. It will be saved on YouTube after the livestream.
Kingeisti was the founding president of Sealaska Heritage, a traditional scholar, a gifted orator and a former member of the Sealaska board of directors. He was a dear friend to many people in the Native and non-Native communities. He was loved for his wisdom, generosity, kindness and sense of humor. Kingeisti was highly valued in the Tlingit community for his deep knowledge of the language, culture and ancient traditional protocols that maintain or restore balance. He was passionate about passing on his knowledge to Native people, children and the general public, and he was a gifted teacher. He had a talent for reaching people of all ages, especially children and young adults, who would pay keen attention to him when he spoke. He was a beloved Elder who taught language, stories and songs to children through SHI’s Baby Raven Reads early literacy program.
About Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. Sealaska Heritage Institute also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee. We are currently fundraising for the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus. The names of people who give $25 or more will be permanently engraved at the campus. Donate and follow our progress!