NEWS_SHI to release first trilingual book, volumes on colors

NEWS_SHI to release first trilingual book, volumes on colors

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Institute to unveil three new books during Gallery Walk​

Nov. 26, 2019

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will release three new children’s books through its award-winning Baby Raven Reads program during Gallery Walk next week.

The release includes Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska, the institute’s first fully trilingual book, which features Lingít (Tlingit), X̱aad Kíl (Haida) and Sm’algya̱x (Tsimshian) old and new songs, English translations and a CD.

“Like parents throughout the world, the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian sang lullabies to their infants. These lullabies and the graphic designs introduce children to their culture, land and rich environment in which we live,” said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“Most songs in Southeast Alaska Native cultures are restricted from general public use because of clan or family membership. We are able to offer these beautiful songs because they are in the public domain or original works.”

The first two Lingít songs are attributed to Kaal.átk (Charlie Joseph) and the third one to Clara Peratrovich, who learned it from her grandmother. The versions in SHI’s book were adapted from Ed Littlefield’s 2011 CD, Walking Between Worlds.

The X̱aad Kíl songs were adapted from texts owned by the Hlii’ilaang Kun ‘Lan-gáay and HIGaa’xatgu ‘Láanaas families, as recorded by John Swanton. The translations and modern orthography were done by Skíl Jáadei (Linda Schrack), Kwíigaay Í’waans (Phyllis Almquist) and llskyalas (Delores Churchill).

The Sm’algyax cradle songs are new works composed by Nancy Barnes and The Haayk Foundation, which, along with Mique’l Dangeli, provided the translations.

The book was illustrated by Tlingit Athabascan artist Crystal Kaakeeyáa Worl.

The Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska CD features songs and spoken word performances by Ed Littlefield, Skíl Jáadei, Nancy Barnes, Nancy Evelyn Barnes, Katie Price, and David R. Boxley.

SHI also will release Xaad Kíl and Sm’algyax versions of its 2016 release Colors: Learn the colors in Lingít, illustrated by Huk Yuunsk (David Lang). Wilgyigyet: Learn the colors in Sm’algyax was compiled by The Haayk Foundation. Xanggáay: Learn the Colors in Xaad Kíl was compiled by Skíl Jáadei and K’uyáang (Benjamin Young).

Families enrolled in Baby Raven Reads will receive the books through the program. SHI will release them publicly during Gallery Walk on Dec. 6 at SHI, 105 S. Seward St., Juneau, and online through the Sealaska Heritage Store.

SHI’s Baby Raven Reads program promotes early literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Twenty-five books have been published through the program since 2016, all of which focus on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures. The project is based on ample research that has shown that Alaska Native students do better academically when culturally relevant content is incorporated into learning materials and classes. The books also help educate non-Native families about Alaska Native cultures and languages, place-based storytelling, and traditional oral literature.

Since the program was launched, Baby Raven Reads has been honored nationally. The Library of Congress selected SHI’s Baby Raven Reads literacy program for its 2017 Best Practice Honoree award, making it one of only 15 programs in the world to receive the honor that year. SHI’s book Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy  won the 2018 American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award from the American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association which gives awards to identify and honor “the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.” Also in 2018, SHI’s book How Devil’s Club Came to Be was reviewed by the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) as a recommended title.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research and advocacy 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 Artists Committee, and a Southeast Regional Language Committee. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

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