Public, media is invited
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The U.S. Postal Service on Friday, assisted by Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), will hold a release ceremony for the Raven Story Forever Stamp — the first stamp ever illustrated by a Tlingit artist.
The artist, Rico Lanáat’ Worl, whose work was discovered by an art director for the Postal Service at the National Museum of the American Indian gift store in Washington, D.C., will attend the ceremony, along with Jakki Krage Strako, U.S. Postal Service chief commerce and business solutions officer and executive vice president; Marlene Johnson, chair, Sealaska Heritage Institute Board of Trustees; Beth Weldon, mayor of Juneau; and Frank Henry Kaash Katasse, playwright, actor, and educator. The ceremony will be moderated by Lance (X̱’unei) A. Twitchell, associate professor of Alaska Native Languages, University of Alaska Southeast. Members of the Lukaax̱.ádi and their clan children will dance.
The story behind the stamp will also be featured on the U.S. Postal Service Facebook and Twitter pages, posting at 5 p.m. ET on July 30, 2021. A pictorial postmark of the designated first-day-of-issue city, Juneau, is available at usps.com/shopstamps.
The ceremony is scheduled at 11 am, Friday, July 30, at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building at 155 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The ceremony will be streamed live through SHI’s YouTube. The public is welcome to attend.
About the Stamp
Merging traditional Northwest Coast artwork with modern design touches, this stamp depicts one of many stories about Raven, a figure of great significance to the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast. Among the cultures of the region, Raven plays an essential role in many traditional tales, including stories about the creation of the world. Inspired by the traditional story of Raven setting free the sun, the moon and the stars, Worl depicted Raven just as he escapes from his human family and begins to transform back into his bird form.
“Many depictions of this story show Raven with the Sun in his mouth representing the stealing of the Sun. I was trying to showcase a bit of drama,” Worl said. “The climax of the story is after Raven has released the sun and the moon and has opened his grandfather’s final precious box, which contained the stars. In this design I am imagining Raven in a panicked state of escape — transforming from human form to raven form and holding on to as many stars as he can while trying to escape the clan house.”
Worl called the depiction an exciting moment of humanity for Raven, who is a powerful being much of the time.
“I think it’s a moment we all feel at times. A moment before we accomplish a goal when we may feel frazzled and have trouble holding everything together in our hands, while trying to accomplish multiple goals at the same time. Even the greatest among us experience the moment that is on the cusp between accomplishment and failure.”
About the Artist
Rico Lanáat’ Worl is a Tlingit/Athabascan social designer and artist with training in anthropology.
His work began with the development of the arts department at Sealaska Heritage Institute, implementing programs to empower the Indigenous artists of Southeast Alaska. The programs focused on developing fundamental skills and access to resources.
Through his current ongoing project, Trickster Company, he carries forward the goals of empowering Indigenous artists. Through this brand he works to celebrate Indigenous resilience and cross-cultural connection, break into a tourist market which profits millions of dollars from knock-off “Native” artwork, and represent the story of how Indigenous people are not only here today but engaged in modern lifestyles.
These goals are also foundational in his work outside of the brand. His crafts range from product design, digital design, jewelry making, printmaking, public art and most recently he has been working to develop his skills in sculpture and computer-aided 3D design.
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: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116, firstname.lastname@example.org; Rico Worl, 907.723.5536, email@example.com; David P. Coleman, U.S. Postal Service Public Affairs Representative, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captions: Invitation to “Raven Story” stamp release ceremony, courtesy of the United States Postal Service; “Raven Story” stamp designed by Rico Lanáat’ Worl, courtesy of the United States Postal Service; Rico Worl holding a sheet of “Raven Story” stamps, photo by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Note: News outlets are welcome and encouraged to use these photos for coverage of this story. For higher-resolution images, contact email@example.com.