Keet Shu-ka is an original presentation blending science, culture, & art by Ann Stateler, Naturalist/Educator, and Odin Lonning, Tlingit Artist/Educator. Their unique and wonderful performance opened the American Cetacean Society's 35th birthday celebration at Town Hall on Sunday October 6th.
Keet is the Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) word for killer whales. Keet rhymes with feet, shu rhymes with shoe, ka rhymes with ta, (as in ta ta). Keet Shu-ka means killer whale ancestors, descendants, and their images in crests, stories, and art. Southeast Alaska's Tlingit revere orcas. As Native people, Odin & Ann see profound connections between Tlingit culture, Native science and northwest Coast orca societies.
Puget Sound's orcas are facing extinction. In Keet Shu-ka, Ann & Odin explain what threatens our orcas. Keet Shu-ka integrates Tlingit regalia, song, dance, stories, and original artwork with standard teaching tools like maps, orca photos, and video. Through Tlingit tradition, orca natural history, and Native science, Odin & Ann explore the killer whale's spiritual and ecological significance in the Pacific Northwest. They promote an indigenous perspective on killer whales, advocating principles of Native science and traditional ecological knowledge as complementary to Western
science. In this framework, they specify ways to protect and honor Puget Sound's imperiled orcas.
Springer or A73, the Orphan Orca, spent six months near Vashon Island, Odin & Ann's home. This remarkable baby orca put an irresistible face on the complex problems affecting all Pacific Northwest killer whales. From behavioral monitoring and data collection to public education and fundraising, Ann & Odin were at the heart of Puget Sound ACS and Orphan Orca Fund efforts to return Springer to her family in Canada. In Keet Shu-ka, Odin & Ann discuss their experience with Springer and how she inspired Northwest Coast Native peoples to honor her ceremonially.
Ann Stateler (AKA Orca Annie) is a marine naturalist and environmental educator of Choctaw/Five Tribes descent. She has studied orcas for twelve years. Odin Lonning is a professional Tlingit artist, cultural educator, and traditional dancer. Together they have staged Keet Shu-ka for diverse West Coast audiences, from San Diego to Glacier Bay, Alaska. Venues include schools, museums, Native art and culture festivals, wildlife and whale watch cruises, and culture camps for Native students. Odin and Ann collaborate in many educational efforts with non-profit groups such as ACS, People for Puget Sound, Project Seawolf, and The Whale Museum on San Juan Island, WA.