Sealaska Heritage Releases First Children’s Book Entirely in Haida Language
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has released its first-ever children’s book entirely in the Haida language, X̱aad Kíl.
The book, Nang Jáadaa Sg̱áana ‘Láanaa aa Isdáayaan, or The Woman Carried Away by Killer Whales in English, is part of SHI’s award-winning Baby Raven Reads program.
The traditional Haida story features a hunter who successfully hunts a sea otter and forgets to thank the otter for its life. When he gifts the otter to his wife, it comes back to life and swims away. She jumps in after it and is captured by the SGaan, the killer whales. An adventurous rescue begins.
“The story is so ancient but we are still telling it today. The power of oral tradition is infinite,” says Janine Gibbons, Haida artist and illustrator of the book.
The Woman Carried Away by Killer Whales was translated by Skíl Jáadei Linda Schrack and Ilskyalas Delores Churchill. After Schrack did a first pass at translating the text, she consulted with esteemed Haida Elder Ilskyalas (Delores Churchill) to review the translation and help with corrections.
“I am forever grateful for her. ‘Láa an sáa Hl gudánggang. (I hold her in high esteem),” Schrack says.
Schrack also recorded audio of the text in X̱aad Kíl so readers can hear the Haida language and learn how to read the language themselves. The audio is available on SHI’s YouTube channel.
The English version of the book was published originally in 2017. No new illustrations were created in the new X̱aad Kíl edition, but minor revisions were made to the design of the book. And with the book written entirely in X̱aad Kíl, without the English translation, it is a whole new reading experience to Gibbons.
“I think people will see it in a completely new way,” Gibbons says.
The book is part of an Indigenous language series that translates previous Baby Raven Reads titles that are adaptations of ancient Raven stories and stories based on oral traditions.
The Indigenous-language-only texts were created for the Baby Raven Reads program based on feedback from parents. Families enrolled in Baby Raven Reads will receive the book for free through the program.
In This Issue
50 Years of ANSCA
Fifty years ago, as the Watergate scandal swirled around then-President Richard Nixon, he signed into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). It was the largest land claims settlement in the nation’s history and a stark departure from agreements forced on Tribes in the Lower 48.