Sealaska Heritage Institute
The U.S. Postal Service this month, assisted by Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), will hold a release ceremony for the “Raven Story” stamp, which was designed by Tlingit artist Rico Lanáat’ Worl of Juneau and unveiled in November.
Antonio Alcalá, who served as art director on the project, reached out to Worl about creating the stamp after seeing his work for sale at the National Museum of the American Indian gift store in Washington DC.
The Postal Service later asked Sealaska Heritage Institute if they could hold a release ceremony during Celebration 2020, but the event was cancelled because of the pandemic.
The stamp, which is now available for pre-sale, is the first one ever illustrated by a Tlingit artist.
The ceremony is scheduled at 11 a.m., Friday, July 30, in front of Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Building at 155 S. Seward Street in Juneau. The ceremony will be streamed live through Sealaska Heritage Institute’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.
About Sealaska Heritage Institute
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. Sealaska Heritage Institute 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.