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Sealaska Heritage Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness

Mission: To protect, perpetuate, and enhance the cultural, social, political and economic traditions for the tlingit, haida and tsimshian tribes of southeast alaska natives. The institute encourages and promotes the preservation and maintenance of their traditional culture, tribal organization, and lifestyle for the benefit of their youth and future generations, as well as the general public, and promotes educational achievement and opportunities for the tlingit, haida and tsimshian people.

Programs: Cultural education we know for a fact that native children do better academically when they know who they are--when they are familiar with their history, language, and culture. At sealaska heritage institute, we work to integrate native culture and languages into classrooms. We also develop teaching materials, including books and curriculum, and provide professional development to train teachers to use our materials and on cultural orientation. Sealaska heritage institute provides scholarships to alaska natives who are sealaska shareholders and descendants for college, university, vocational schools and technical schools.

language and cultural arts sealaska heritage institute provides the following language and culture programs: celebration, language resources, master apprentice program, native american heritage month events, latseen leadership academy, latseen hoop camps, curriculum, repatriation, tlingit national anthem, tlingit protocols, the tlingit memorial party, walter soboleff center and haidalanguage. Org. Sealaska heritage institute produces native language curriculum and other education tools through its language and education programs. The institute encourages students and teachers to use its online resources to perpetuate and revitalize tlingit, haida and tsimshian languages.

art programs sealaska heritage institute operates numerous programs to perpetuate northwest coast art--one of the most distinctive art forms in the world. The goals are to: o provide opportunities for native artists' professional development; o expand demand for native arts through developing native arts markets; o provide native arts cross-cultural education among general public; o advocate for artists' access to traditional materials; and, o research and preserve northwest coast style art. Sustainable art program the institute is building on traditional economies and the use of natural resources that are abundant and readily available in southeast alaska to revitalize traditional arts and crafts production: we call this the "sustainable art program. " the institute is purchasing seal and sea otter hides from native hunters, training crafts people, and producing curriculum material to support continuing education. The institute is also developing marketing strategies to integrate the arts and crafts into the capital economy while respecting and retaining our traditional value of "haa aan" - honoring and utilizing our land and resources. These efforts are providing economic opportunities for alaska natives in southeast alaska and supporting traditional cultural practices.

other programs including the scholarship program, traditional celebrations and the jineit retail store

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Books part of award-winning early literacy program

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has published four new culturally-based children’s books that reflect the Native worldview.

The new series includes the ancient story Shanyáak’utlaax: Salmon Boy; and the original texts Let’s Go: A Harvest Story; Picking Berries; and Native Values: Living in Harmony. The books were illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade and Tsimshian artist David Lang. Authors include Hannah Lindoff (with Marigold Lindoff) and Rosita Worl. The text of Shanyáak’utlaax: Salmon Boy was edited by Johnny Marks, Hans Chester, David Katzeek, Nora Dauenhauer, and Richard Dauenhauer.

The books are part of the institute’s award-winning Baby Raven Reads, a program for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5 that promotes language development and school readiness. Baby Raven Reads this month was one of 15 programs in the world chosen for a 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree.

The release of the books 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, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“We know that schools sometimes allow our children to fail and that they’ve stumbled in the past by supplying books with distorted depictions about Native cultures,” Worl said. “With this series we are aiming to meet the demand for books that reflect the Native worldview and to give our children some of the tools they need to succeed.”

The project is based on ample research that has shown the effectiveness of using culturally-based teaching resources and methods to improve academic achievement in Indigenous students. Scholars note the disparity between the experience of Native children and materials currently used in the classroom.

Research also indicates that children who are fluent readers by the end of third grade are likely to do well in school and go on to higher education. Students’ scores in reading are consistently associated with academic grades and economic success later in life.

Raven Reading: A Culturally Responsive Kindergarten Readiness Program is funded by an Alaska Native Education Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education: CFDA # 84.356A, PR# S356A140060.