Introduction to Wrangell Rainforest

Written by

Vivian Mork Yéilk’ & Vivian Faith Prescott


Welcome to the Rainforest

By Vivian Mork Yéilk’

The Tlingit have stewarded the land and ocean known as Tlingit Aaní, also called the Tongass National Rainforest, since time immemorial. Tlingit Aaní is the largest temperate rainforest in the world–it’s one of the most diverse ecosystems left on the planet, filled with old-growth trees, salmon, deer, bears, wolves, berries, and medicines. These are not just resources. This is home.We behave ourselves differently on land we’ve lived on for so long when the trees are our Grandmothers, the wolves are our Grandfathers, the bears are our Uncles, and we are Salmon People. Our Grandmother trees are some of the largest producers of oxygen on the entire planet.Spruce, hemlock, yellow cedar, and red cedar stand tall across more than 1,100 islands. For thousands of years, the ocean has been our highway connecting our families.We are among the oldest people to live in one spot sustainably for thousands of years. Our origin stories are from this land. Our language was formed by the very mountains, glaciers, rivers, ocean,and animals surrounding us. The spruce, the cedar, the porcupine, and killer whales all know our ancient songs. This connection we have woven here since time immemorial is sacred. Not only is this forest important to Tlingit people, it is integral to the survival of the planet. We steward this land and ocean for those who come after us.


Welcome to Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw, Wrangell, Alaska

By Vivian Faith Prescott

Welcome to Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw, Wrangell, Alaska, home of the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan in TlingitAaní, the Alexander Archipelago, a thousand island chain in Southeastern Alaska. Our island is shaped like a snow goose flying to the Stikine River Flats. It is about 30 miles long and from five to 14 miles wide. We are located at the mouth of the Stikine River, the fastest free-flowing river in the United States. There are about 2,400 people on the island. Wedepend heavily on subsistence living, and goods shipped in by barge, ferry, boats, and air.We live at our fishcamp near an old Tlingit village area Ḵeishangita.aan “Red Alder Head Village” where we pass on traditional knowledge, including our Tlingit and Sámi values, to the next generation. We also run a program called Hike, Harvest, and Heal. If you Google Earth us, you can discover Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw at 56°23′06′′N 132°05′11′′W. Our family’s fishcamp, Mickey’s Fishcamp, can be found in the bend of the snow goose’s neck.

Vivian Mork Yéilk’ & Vivian Faith Prescott

Alaska

Vivian Mork Yéilk, Cute-Little-Raven, is Tlingit from the Raven moiety. She belongs to the T’akdeintaan clan from the Snail House. She’s a child of the Teikweidí and grandchild of the Kaagwaantaan. She’s also Sámi, Hawaiian, and Irish. She was born and raised in Wrangell, Alaska, but her kwáan comes from Glacier Bay region. She lives part-time in Wrangell and Sitka. Yéilk’ is a two-spirit ethnobotanist, traditional foods and medicines educator, writer, artist, and storyteller. She holds an M.A. in Cross Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Knowledge Systems. She conducts plant talks and walks for the Southeast Alaskan community and beyond.

Vivian Faith Prescott lives in Lingít Aaní on the land of the Shtax’heen Kwáan in Wrangell, Alaska at her family’s fishcamp. She is a member of the Pacific Sámi Searvi. Her children are T’akdeintaan/Snail House (Raven). She is adopted into the T’akdeintaan clan. She has an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a MA in Cross Cultural Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also holds an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Along with her daughter, Vivian Mork Yéilk’, she co-hosts the award-winning Planet Alaska Facebook page and Planet Alaska column appearing in the Juneau Empire.