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Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) next week will open the Walter Soboleff Building to all second-grade students in the Juneau School District as part of a national program to provide 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 25 sites in the country. Juneau was selected as the eleventh site in 2013.

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

“One of our goals is to promote cross-cultural understanding, and this program provides a way for us to share our culture and our arts with children,” Worl said.

Pictured: Lily Hope telling stories to children at SHI’s Any Given Child event in 2017.

Pictured: Lily Hope telling stories to children at SHI’s Any Given Child event in 2017.

Sealaska Heritage first participated in the program in 2015 and the arts excursions are slated to occur annually each November. Because of the pandemic, for the past two years the arts excursions were held online.

This year’s arts excursion to the Walter Soboleff Building is scheduled for November 8–10. Students will attend a 60-minute session, which will include cultural stories told by Lily Hope and Mary Daaljíni Cruise, and a visit to the Nathan Jackson Gallery. An art kit developed by elementary art specialist Nancy Lehnhart 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.

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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.