Some interesting facts about the Tlingit Indians include that the Tlingit live in the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and southeastern Alaska, and that the Tlingit language is endangered. Another fact about the Tlingit Indians is that each Tlingit tribe is classified as a band or First Nation in Canada.
Tlingit communities are divided into groups called kwans, which are groups of people who live together and intermarry. There were approximately 15 to 20 kwans when the Europeans first made contact with the Tlingit Indians.
The Tlingit Indians believe that all life is equal in value and that there are no superior species of animals. Tlingit clans identify each other using animal crests. All Tlingit crests are sacred and have songs and stories associated with them. Using a clan's crest without permission is considered stealing and often clashes with the American idea of the public domain.
Tlingit Indians hold extravagant feasts called potlatches to raise their social status, to pay debts and to celebrate. Potlaches are not held for worshipping deities. The Tlingit people hold funeral potlatches, memorial potlatches, adoption potlatches and totem-pole-raising potlatches.
The Tlingit language is no longer taught to children. The language is complex and mostly spoken by Tlingit elders. The first sound in the word "Tlingit" is a breathy syllable that has no English equivalent. The word "gunalcheesh" is a Tlingit word that means "thank you."