"The Tlingit had a strong tradition in cedar bark basket weaving and mountain goat wool blanket weaving. They had yellow cedar and traded for red cedar with the Haida. They also traded with the Eyak, Tsimshian (especially for eulachon) and Athapaskan extensively. The Tlingit people belong to one of two groups, which I will call moieties: the Raven or the Wolf. This set up marriage groups; one can marry only from the other moiety. The moieties were further broken down into clans and family lineages, both of which owned crests. Descent was through the mother. The death of a spouse entitled the widow or widower to marry the spouse's next closest relative of the same sex either of the same generation or the next generation. A man could marry his wife and her sisters or a woman her husband and his brother or nephew in his moiety. But very few women had more than one husband at the same time. Some crests from the Raven moiety are Raven, Owl, Whale, Frog and Sun; from the Wolf moiety are Eagle, Petrel, Wolf, Bear and Thunderbird. Property held by the families or clans could be transferred, including crests, songs, and territories. This could happen at marriages, during peace agreements, or could be taken in wars. (Poorly written) Any new displays of crests by hosts or guests at a potlatch required payment to witnesses. If the crest showed places, the display and gift acceptance legitimated territorial claims. The animals shown in the crests were referred to by kin names. All living things and many important non-living things were referred to by names as if they were alive, such as halibut hooks and canoes. All things in nature needed to be treated and addressed respectfully. Thus hunting and fishing were also spiritual affairs. The souls of the animals sought are equal to our own. So hunters and fishers pray to the spirit of the animal they are seeking and explain why they are killing the animal. Hunters needed to be spiritually cleansed before hunting. The most important animals for food were bears, deer, mountain gots, and birds. The salmon and eulachon were especially important ot the Tlingit diet. The Tlingit moved to their particular resource areas when they were available. Eulachon are small fish rich in fat, a little bigger than herring. Salmon heads, eulachon, herring, seal blubber and mountain goats were all valuable for their fat. The fish were put in a large pot (often a canoe) into which hot rocks were put to boil the water and the fat was skimmed off. Salmon and halibut and some of the meats were smoked.
People that died went to live on another plane for a while until they were reincarnated. There were different places one went depending on how one died or how they were while alive. Good people who died naturally went hrough a thorny forest to the Town of the Dead. People who died violently went to a good land above the sky. Wicked people went to "Raven's home" or "Dog's Heaven". People that died were usually cremated, but shamans were brought to a cave with some of their special tools. Some people were put in burial boxes at the top of totem poles and some later were put in burial boxes at ground level with their crests painted on it and much later many were buried with a cement or marble slab put over the grave. Childbirth occurred in a bark shelter where the mother and baby remained for a while so as not to contaminate their family house.
For the Tlingit injuries to people or peoples property was redressed by the person who made the injury or that person's next kin, whether that injury was made intentionally or not. This happened even if a man accidentally hurt his wife or child because the wife and child belonged to the opposite moiety. Injuries were usually redressed through the payment of blankets and other goods, but occasionally life sacrifice was part of the way to make peace. Wars occurred between clans but not between tribes, usually. These occurred over disputes, to take away property and rights and to avenge injuries or insults. Tlingit warriors had armour that might be made of strong hide, such as moose or walrus hide, or of wooden slats sewn together with sinew. There were also helmets and collars that extended over the face with slits for the eyes. The armour, helmets and collars were decorated to frighten opponents." 1
There are many works from the Tlingit communities in the Art Collections at the University of Victoria. These include a number of baskets and basketry covered bottles that were widely traded along the coast with Europeans. There are also a number of contemporary Tlingit artists represented in the print collection at the university.