SHI joins forces with Any Given Child, local groups, in arts initiative

Sealaska Heritage Institute has partnered with a national arts program and local organizations to teach Southeast Native cultures to children annually at the Walter Soboleff Building.

Starting in November, all second-grade students in the Juneau School District will go on annual arts excursions to the Walter Soboleff Building to learn about the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.

The event is part of the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program, which was founded by the Kennedy Center to create full access to arts education programs and resources for K-8 students. The Kennedy Center works with 18 sites in the country and Juneau is one of them.

The arts excursion to the Walter Soboleff Building is scheduled Nov. 19-20. Students will experience a 45-minute performance that will include three cultural stories. An elementary art specialist prepared the students for the excursion by developing an art kit that was used to teach all second graders in the school district about clan houses and the glass house screen in Shuká Hít (the clan house) made by Preston Singletary. As part of the lesson, the students made a miniature replica of the screen.

SHI in 2012 signed a memorandum of agreement with the Juneau School District and University of Alaska Southeast to increase collaboration on educational efforts, said SHI President Rosita Worl in a release, noting this is the type of collaboration SHI had hoped to foster.

“It is so important to teach children about the Native worldview to promote cross-cultural understanding,” Worl said. “We are thrilled that school children will come to the Walter Soboleff Building every year to learn about the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.”

In addition to SHI, local groups supporting this month’s excursion are the Juneau School District, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and Behrends Mechanical, Inc. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Center and the Juneau School District are members of the Any Given Child program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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