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Book singled out for illustrations by Tlingit artist

Feb. 12, 2018

(AILA Announcement) (Buy)

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s new book Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy  has won the 2018 American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award from the American Indian Library Association (AILA).

AILA, an affiliate of the American Library Association, gives awards to identify and honor “the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.”

The book, which was illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade, was published through Baby Raven Reads, a Sealaska Heritage program for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5 that promotes language development and school readiness. 

Baby Raven Reads in December won the title of 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree. SHI’s Baby Raven book How Devil’s Club Came to Be in February was reviewed by the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog as a recommended title.

The accolades given to the Baby Raven Reads program have been exciting and humbling, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“Our Baby Raven Reads program was driven in part by the dearth of Northwest Coast children’s books on the market that were produced by Native people. It’s so important for Native children to see themselves and their cultures accurately reflected in reading materials,” Worl said. “The awards are a blessing that we did not anticipate and we are honored to be recognized for our team’s hard work.”

Salmon Boy: Shanyaak’utlaax, which was published in 2017, is a children's story that teaches about respect for nature, animals and culture. It comes from an ancient Tlingit story that was edited by Johnny Marks, Hans Chester, David Katzeek, and Nora and Richard Dauenhauer. The traditional Salmon Boy story is complex and has been adapted to be age appropriate for younger students.

The book won the award because of the illustrations, which were made by Goade, an artist and graphic designer currently residing in Juneau. Her Tlingit name is Sheit.een and she is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi Clan from Sitka, Alaska. Raised in Juneau, she spent her childhood in the forests and on the beaches of Southeast Alaska and her artistic style is rooted in the depth and beauty of its landscapes. At the heart of her work, whether it's a logo or book illustration project, is a passion for evocative storytelling. After earning her degrees in graphic design and marketing from Fort Lewis College, she worked as a designer and art director in Anchorage, before embarking on her full-time freelance career and returning to Southeast Alaska.

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 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 Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

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