In this Box of Knowledge essay, Sealaska Heritage President Dr. Rosita Worl outlines the ancient ceremonial rites related to Aas Ḵwáani (People of the Trees) in Southeast Alaska. Over the course of at least 10,000 years of continuous occupation of this region, the Tlingit People developed close relationships with the environment, and accepted that everything has a spirit. They, along with the Haida and Tsimshian, developed practices and ceremonies recognizing the spiritual relationship they have with the land, including the Tree People. Tree ceremonies continue to be practiced today to ensure the sustainability of the forests and provide benefits for future generations.
Dr. Worl, whose Tlingit names are Yeidiklasókw and Kaaháni, is Tlingit, Ch’áak’ (Eagle) moiety of the Shangukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdliyaayi Hít (House Lowered From the Sun) in Klukwan. She is an anthropologist and for many years served as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Southeast. Yeidiklatsókw has a Ph.D. and a M.S. in Anthropology from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Alaska Methodist University. She also holds an honorary doctor of sciences degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Worl has received many honors and works with several different Native organizations. She is an accomplished lecturer and author.