SHI has partnered with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to develop and offer an Associate of Arts (AA) degree with an emphasis on Northwest Coast arts. The undergraduate program includes a wide spectrum of classes—from tool making to design, basketry and weaving among others. The program, which will be offered this fall at the university’s Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka campuses, is part of a larger effort to establish a four-year degree track through UAS and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Thanks to an MOA between SHI, UAS, and IAIA, students who earn an AA degree with a NWC Arts emphasis have the option to transfer credits and pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from IAIA. Students can also work toward a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences or education at UAS or the broader University of Alaska system.
In addition to art classes, the program requires students to complete courses in Alaska Native studies, Indigenous performing arts and a language class on beginning Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian, as well as Northwest Coast design, art history and culture, art theory and practice, and career development for artists.
SHI designed the Our Ancestors' Echoes program to increase the number of Alaska Native students in Southeast Alaska who have access to educators teaching their heritage language. Building on the success of the Our Language Pathway project, this work also prioritizes supporting and retaining current language educators, increasing wider access to language courses, and supporting mental health and healing work in the community. Additionally, the program includes the establishment of an immersive language community for 6 scholars enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies in Language at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and the publication of language resources in X̱aad Kíl, Sm'algyax, and Lingít.
SHI funds scholarships for language students enrolled at the University of Alaska Southeast who are studying Xaad Kíl, Sm’algyax, and Lingít.
SHI funds scholarships for Native language students seeking bachelor’s degrees to further perpetuate Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian languages in the establishment of learning nests.
Through the three-year program, selected candidates are expected to:
- Spend four hours weekly listening to audio in their heritage language;
- Spend each year with an advanced language speaker translating and transcribing 15 minutes of archival audio;
- Attend SHI’s healing Summer Language Program each year;
- Obtain a bachelor's degree in Indigenous studies with an emphasis on Alaska Native Languages.
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 several more years and to expand it to nine other communities in Southeast Alaska. SHI is currently offering the program in Anchorage, Angoon, Craig, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Klukwan, Metlakatla, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell, and Yakutat. Special thanks to our partners: Alaska Native Heritage Center, Association of Alaska School Boards, Metlakatla Indian Community, Ketchikan Indian Community, Chilkat Indian Village, Organized Village of Kake, and AEYC-SEA.
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. A study by McKinley Research Group reveals that Native children who participated in the BRR program made 20-39 percent gains in phonetic knowledge, awareness of print concepts, and knowledge of letters and symbols, while scores for all other students have remained relatively static. The program was also known to increase parental and family engagement in student learning.
Family literacy events occur 9 times a year in selected communities. Storytelling, songs, and other literacy activities are available to Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Through playful and culturally relevant activities with parents, children are provided opportunities to practice and develop skills such as oral language, phonological awareness, print awareness, and letter knowledge.
Baby Raven Books
Baby Raven Reads publications are a collection based on the cultural themes of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. The illustrations in the Baby Raven Reads series reflect the importance of family, subsistence, and our land. From baby board books to early readers and read a-louds, babies to adults can find joy in reading together. Families enrolled in Baby Raven Reads will receive Baby Raven Reads books with literacy activities to do at home. Books are also available through the Sealaska Heritage Store.
SHI's Language Podcast includes the following episodes related to the Baby Raven Reads series:
Colors in Sm'algyax
Colors in Xaad Kíl
Colors in Tlingit
Haida Baby Raven
Haida Baby Eagle
Tlingit audio for the Baby Raven Reads book Shanyaak'utlaax - Salmon Boy is available here.
Baby Raven Reads was recognized in 2017 by the Library of Congress, which gave SHI a 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'utlaax: Salmon Boy its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award, and in January 2020 it gave Raven Makes the Aleutians a AILA Picture Book Honor award.. 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. In January 2020, AICL also recommended Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska.
Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsors an annual Latseen Hoop Camp. Sealaska Heritage developed the model for this program, which teaches athletic skills and the Tlingit four core cultural values. This innovative program provides a fun and safe environment for youth to be physically active, and develop basketball fundamentals.
Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsors an annual Latseen Running Camp that utilizes running to improve the strength of body, mind, and spirit while fostering a connection between our lives and the land. Themodel developed for this program is grounded in the four core cultural values and the development of athletic skills.
SHI sponsors a summer academy for middle school students through its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program. Students create, explore, make, and problem-solve with place-based, culturally relevant STEAM activities. Activities may include such things as outdoor activities, carving paddles, interactive STEAM lessons, games, art, and cultural activities.
SHI sponsors a summer academy for high school students through its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program. Students focus on traditional ecological knowledge and STEAM career connections. Students can earn high school credit while working alongside Elders and professional researchers to build a deeper connection to the place we call home.
SHI offers scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students who are pursuing:
- Arts and science degrees with a focus in studio arts, performing arts, cinematic arts and technology, or creative writing, and which incorporate Northwest Coast Arts studies in their degree; or,
- A degree with a concentration in museum studies
Art students must be enrolled in NWC arts courses at the University of Alaska Southeast or arts courses at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Museum studies students must be enrolled full-time at a US college.