Sealaska Heritage Institute releases new Baby Raven Reads books

New Baby Raven Reads unveiled at the Juneau Public Market; signing scheduled for December 7

News Release

Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) this week will release three new culturally-based children’s books through its award-winning Baby Raven Reads program.

The books, Raven and the Tide Lady,Raven Loses His NoseandRaven Makes the Aleutians are based on ancient Northwest Coast Raven stories but are adapted for children, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“The original Raven stories are complex, humorous and sometimes filled with raucous adventures. Raven stories are not about what is viewed as proper behavior, but what is not acceptable behavior,” Worl said. “Raven the Trickster is found in oral traditions throughout North America and elsewhere in the world and teaches people how to exist in society.”

The books were adapted from the works of the late Nora and Dick Dauenhauer, who transcribed the stories from Elders’ oral accounts.

In Raven and the Tide Lady, Raven fights with Tide Lady to bring low tide and allow humans to gather food. In Raven Loses His Nose, Raven’s greediness results in a temporary loss of his nose. In Raven and the Aleutian Chain, Raven’s arrogance leads to the creation of the Aleutian Chain. The books were illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade, David Lang and Janine Gibbons respectively.

The books were released at the Juneau Public Market, held Nov. 23-25 at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. They are available at the Sealaska Heritage Store. The illustrators will sign copies of the books at the store during Gallery Walk on December 7. Proceeds support SHI’s art and culture programs.

The release of SHI’s Baby Raven book series, first published in 2016, is groundbreaking because so few culturally-relevant children’s books from Southeast Alaska exist that are not tailored for the commercial market. And, research has shown that Native students do better academically when their cultures are incorporated into learning materials and classes.

About the Illustrators

Michaela Goade, a freelance graphic designer and illustrator raised in Juneau, recently moved back to town after spending several years outside of Alaska for college, and a couple years in Anchorage working as a designer and art director. She is Tlingit of the Raven moiety, Kiks.ádi clan, and says her heritage and love for Southeast Alaska is a huge inspiration for her work.

David Lang was born in Juneau and raised in Southeast Alaska until moving to Washington State in his early teens. A commercial artist since 2001, David moved back to Juneau in 2009 to open High Tide Tattoo and seized the opportunity to reconnect with his Tsimshian heritage, shifting his focus and studies to the Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast, with an emphasis on Tsimshian language and culture.

Janine Gibbons grew up in Petersburg and graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle as well as Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. In trying to find herself, she studied everything from education to philosophy to biology to religion but finally settled upon what she has been doing for her entire life, which is art. She finds artistic inspiration in the colors and patterns of nature and in the meticulous work of her Haida ancestors. Janine is Haida Raven of the Double-Finned Killer Whale clan, Brown Bear House.

About Baby Raven Reads

Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. The pilot program in Juneau ended in 2017, and SHI received funding to offer the program for another three years and to expand it to nine other communities in Southeast Alaska. SHI—in partnership with Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) Head Start program—is offering the three-year program in Juneau, Angoon, Craig, Hoonah, Klawock, Petersburg, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat through 2020. 

Baby Raven Reads improves early literacy skills by translating cultural strengths into home literacy practices. Baby Raven Reads provides family literacy events, training for care providers, and professional development for early childhood educators.

Baby Raven Reads was recognized in 2017 by the Library of Congress, which gave SHI its 2017 Best Practice Honoree award (watch a video short of former Education Director Jackie Kookesh accepting the award). In February 2018, the  American Indian Library Association awarded SHI's book Shanyaak'utlaa*x**: Salmon Boy* its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award winner.  Also in February 2018, SHI’s Baby Raven book How Devil’s Club Came to Be was reviewed by the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog as a recommended title.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, 907.321.4636, kathy.dye@sealaska.com.

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