Herring are a foundation and cultural keystone species to Native peoples of Southeast Alaska, and nowhere is the rich cultural tradition of cultivating, gathering, processing, and distributing herring eggs more developed than in Sitka Sound. This book, published through SHI's Box of Knowledge series, details the extensive material, social, and ceremonial benefits that flow from the sharing, gifting, and exchange of herring eggs collected at Sitka Sound, some 87 percent of which are distributed by harvesters to more than 40 communities around Alaska and beyond. Although highly valued and celebrated as the first returning fish of the spring, marking the renewal of life and the annual subsistence cycle, the Indigenous herring economy is undervalued and undermined by contemporary fisheries management, putting increasing stress on Tlingit and other Native harvesters of herring eggs at Sitka Sound and elsewhere in the Southeast Alaska.
SHI’s Box of Knowledge Series consists of essays, reports, and books that the institute considers should be made available as a contribution to studies on Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures, history, and languages. They may be based on work carried out by researchers working in collaboration with SHI, contributions prepared by external experts, and work by staff.