Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to open doors to all second-grade Juneau School District students for 2023 arts initiative

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Program part of partnership with Any Given Child Juneau, local group initiative

Nov. 20, 2023

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will open its Walter Soboleff Building to all second-grade students in the Juneau School District as part of a national program to promote experiences and learning in the arts to all children.

The excursion is part of the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative established by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to create equitable access to arts education programs and resources for K-8 students. The Kennedy Center works with 28 sites across the country. Juneau was selected as the 11th site in 2013.

The program provides an opportunity for SHI to expose children to Southeast Alaska Native cultures and arts, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“It is so important to teach children about the Native worldview to promote cross-cultural understanding,” Worl said. “We are thrilled that school children will come to the Walter Soboleff Building to learn about the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.”

Sealaska Heritage first participated in the program in 2015, and the arts excursions are slated to occur annually each fall semester.

This year’s arts excursion to the Walter Soboleff Building is scheduled for Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 1. Students will attend a 60-minute session, which will include cultural stories told by Mary Daaljíni Cruise and a visit to the Nathan Jackson Gallery. The gallery visit includes learning about the current exhibit: Native Women’s Art: Drawn From the Spirits of Ancestors Within. This exhibit includes 60 works by 56 artists from Alaska’s major Indigenous groups, including the Alutiiq, Athabaskan, Inupiat, Yupik, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. Through the show, SHI is honoring the ingenuity and strength of Alaska Native women who continue to create and innovate. 

An art kit developed by the Juneau School District elementary art specialist was used to prepare and teach all second graders in the school district about clan houses and the glass house screen in Shuká Hít made by Tlingit artist Preston Singletary. As part of the lesson, the students made a miniature replica of the screen.

The Any Given Child Walter Soboleff Building Excursion is offered by Sealaska Heritage Institute, in partnership with Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Juneau School District.

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, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,

Caption: SHI staff giving students a tour in 2022. Photo by Mircea Brown, courtesy of SHI. Note: Media outlets are permitted to publish this photo for coverage of this story.