Southeast Alaska Tribes Working Together to Prosper
Terrance Henry Booth, Sr., Tsimshian
The economy of this country and Alaska dictates that tribal efforts need to be considered and implement to prosper during this downturn of America’s economy. This writer’s late father once said and requested that it be the first sentence in a speech presented to the Tsimshian Nation at one of their annual meetings in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. He said, “Tribal economic development in reality would be a re-discovery of who we are as tribal people." (Quote Ira C. Booth, Tsimshian Tribal Historian, Tsimshian Nation) He then described how the Tsimshian Nation during the expansion of British Columbia and the Gold Rush Era in that region the Tsimshian was right in the middle of commerce.
With already existing opportunities we as the Southeast Alaska Tribes can capitalize on simply being ourselves in regionalizing culture tourism to include the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian. According to McDowell Group spending by visitors to Alaska from October 2008- October 2009 spent a total of $1.5 Billion Dollars. Southeast Alaska has 35% of the total for visitor spending totaling $523.6 Million Dollars. Regional Cultural Tourism by Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian can capture the visitors spending in Southeast Alaska.
This writer proposes formation of Southeast Alaska Inter-Tribal Regional Tourism Association to include Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian. This will be great for economic benefits to all three of the tribes of Southeast Alaska. It presents many opportunities by creating more jobs, the Native Artists making a marked impression to visitors coming to Southeast Alaska. Collectively, promote our cultural heritage of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian; with proper display of Native Artwork, further promotion of the dances and songs of each of the tribes of Southeast Alaska. That the Native Corporations of Southeast Alaska are encourage to give serious consideration and support to this cultural endeavor that will reap lifelong enrichment of creating greater awareness of cultures of Southeast Alaska, our languages, and our traditions. This proposal not only will create cultural awareness of who we are as tribal people; but, it will educate the public and visitors of our rich cultural diversities.
A suggestion that Inter-Tribal Pavilions be built that reflects the cultures of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian be strategically located in Southeast Alaska that has very high volumes of visitors per day from May to September of each year. These cultural buildings that can have year around cultural events to perfect the Native Arts or get ready for the next tourism season, used as cultural class rooms to learn languages, songs, dances, and learn more about the culture. Also, this cultural pavilion building can be used for cultural diversity classes for the public at large. These cultural buildings have working studios and areas set aside to display their artwork for the Native Artists of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian.
In this cultural building design large enough room for the dancers to perform to capture their audiences, visitors and general public. Off-season the building can be cultural gathering place where school districts can send students for cultural education and learning of languages, the Native Arts, the Dances and Songs of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian. A greater use is to make contact with major Museums that have Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian Artifacts and make arrangements to have these Artifacts on display for our own people and children to see the richness of their culture and for the visitors and general public who will gain more awareness and insight of our cultures. Creating a unique Inter-tribal heritage pavilions creating a museum quality facility, inter-tribal gift shops, inter-tribal library, cultural events, promoting the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian Cultures of Southeast Alaska and readily promote our tribal histories, creating in-depth understanding of who we are as the first people of Southeast Alaska.