Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann

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Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann

Luke Griswold-Tergis met Cory Mann (Tlingit) while hitchhiking through Alaska—on a sailboat. “Luke and I became friends mainly because he was sleeping on my floor,” explains Mann. During his time spent in Alaska, Griswold-Tergis was struck by the recollection of Alaskan Native peoples’ history and traditions, but realized that the knowledge “is endangered, and people need to work on preserving it more.” As co-producers of the film Smokin’ Fish, Griswold-Tergis and Mann explore the Tlingit tradition of smoking fish from the perspective of Mann.

“My first studies in college revolved around acting for the movies. Luke and I both thought the two would blend together, and obviously somebody’s got to jump in front of the camera to catch some fish if your movie’s about smoking fish,” says Mann.

Smokin’ Fish is a film “about the survival of a culture from the point-of-view of one person,” explains Griswold-Tergis. The film captures the Tlingit tradition of smoking fish as demonstrated by Mann and his family. The film follows Mann through the fish-smoking process. In the film, Mann tells his own life story while relating it to the ongoing disappearance of Native culture in Alaska.

The process of smoking fish, much like other Native traditions, is slowly being forgotten. “The primary goal of Smokin’ Fish is to preserve how to smoke fish and get people out there to do that before that gets lost,” says Mann. Alongside raising awareness of the traditional ways of the smoking fish process, Smokin’ Fish explores the ongoing disappearance of Native culture and tradition from Alaska. “Native people running away from their culture is happening at a rapid pace,” says Mann.

Smokin’ Fish is an example of a fading Native tradition receiving exposure to encourage participation and create public awareness among both Natives and non- Natives. Griswold-Tergis commented, “There are a lot of people like Cory who are working to support their culture, support their people and make it fun and interesting. Making it fun, that’s what this project is all about.”

Written by Ben Kreimer.

Interview conducted and editing done by Ben Kreimer.