The Tlingit word "Latseen" means strength. The camps include lectures by Native leaders, classes on Native heritage and oratory and traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and preparing Native foods. The camps also include physical activities, hikes to important cultural places and endurance training. Students will have a chance to swim in icy water, traditionally a common practice to train Native warriors. The program is designed to immerse students in their culture and strengthen their sense of self, said Rosita Worl, SHI president.
"I want them to know who they are as Native people and to be comfortable with themselves as Native people. I think we live in an environment that challenges that Native identity so I wanted students to be really comfortable and proud of who they are," Worl said. Students who participated in last year's camp gave it a thumbs up.
"It's blown me away, it's been such an amazing experience. I can't describe it," said student Kai Monture of Yakutat.
"I thought it was fun, and I'm happy to learn more about my culture because I didn't know much before I came," said student Kymberly Hoile of Juneau.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a Native nonprofit established in 1981 to administer educational and cultural programs for Sealaska, a regional Native corporation formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.