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Sealaska Heritage Institute Awarded Two Grants to Perpetuate, Interpret Native Arts

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has been awarded two grants to perpetuate Native arts and to help the general public interpret Northwest Coast art designs.

The Alaska Humanities Forum has given SHI a $7,000 grant to develop a booklet that interprets the distinctive Native designs known as formline. Members of the public frequently ask for assistance in understanding the designs—it’s one of the most common questions fielded by SHI and art and tourism organizations.

The booklet, “An Interpretive Guide to Northwest Coast Formline,” will use illustrations and archival photos to explain basic formline elements and to clarify color usage and clan crests as proprietary intellectual property. The booklet will include a formline drawing for readers to interpret followed by an answer key.

The booklet will be available later this year at SHI’s Jinéit art store at Sealaska Plaza, the Juneau Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and other places. It will be provided at no cost to schools and public libraries. Copies also will be available to researchers at SHI’s library and archive in Juneau.

SHI also received a grant from the State of Alaska for the institute’s Southeast Alaska Sustainable Arts Project. Through the project, SHI will reintroduce the ancient art of skin-sewing throughout Southeast Alaska. The program will help to save a nearly lost art form, develop a cottage industry in rural communities and more fully utilize a sustainable resource. The $450,000 grant will be spread over three years.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

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