Ben Hohenstatt / Capital City Weekly 
Written by Lily Wooshkindein Da.áat Hope and illustrated by Kelsey Mata Foote, Sealaska Heritage Institute just released a new children’s book about Celebration for their Baby Raven Reads program.

Ben Hohenstatt / Capital City Weekly Written by Lily Wooshkindein Da.áat Hope and illustrated by Kelsey Mata Foote, Sealaska Heritage Institute just released a new children’s book about Celebration for their Baby Raven Reads program.

Native artists, SHI release Celebration-themed children’s book

It’ll join the ever-expanding Baby Raven Reads catalogue.

Sealaska Heritage Institute, working with a pair of Tlingit artists from Southeast Alaska, released a children’s book aptly titled “Celebration” in time for Celebration 2022, which begins in a week.

Written by Lily Wooshkindein Da.áat Hope and illustrated by Kelsey Mata Foote, “Celebration” will part of the Baby Raven Reads collection, and follows the story of a young girl as she experiences Celebration, an every-other-year event celebration Southeast Alaska Native art and culture held in Juneau.

“I guess I based it off of my own children, the way they might speak about it,” Hope said, adding that she included a ferry portion as a very Southeast experience, calling it the blue canoe. “I tend to write from a female perspective because I don’t know anything else.”

[Trail Mix, Juneau Off-Road receive grant for future park]

SHI reached out to Hope before Celebration in 2020 with the project in mind, she said. When pandemic canceled that year’s Celebration, the timeline was shifted to the 2022 event, Hope said.

“SHI approached me,” Hope said. “They said you’re a storyteller, can you tell this story?”

The original plan was for Hope to write words, while the art would consist of archival photographs, she said. The plan was altered to make it more accessible to children, with a single character and throughline, Hope said, anchored around the key events of Celebration, such as the regalia review, art market and fashion show.

“We were pretty clear at the beginning what we wanted to touch on,” Hope said. “I would much rather read a book (to children) with illustrations than archival photographs.”

The book does feature photos of past celebrations at the end, adding a historical component for adults to engage with, but SHI reached out to Native artists for the artwork, and eventually selected Kelsey Mata Foote.

“I was incredibly flattered as I knew Lily wrote the story back in 2019. They were looking for an illustrator who could capture regalia in its true spirit,” Foote said in a phone interview. “It’s always something I’ve held near and dear to my heart — portraying the traditional clothing I grew up making and wearing in a format accessible for children.”

Foote said her style is a marriage of watercolors and modern graphic design.

Celebration tells the story of a young girl experiencing Celebration with her family, released in time for Celebration 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Celebration tells the story of a young girl experiencing Celebration with her family, released in time for Celebration 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

“Traditional watercolor is a lot of the background and the backdrops and digital art is layered on top of it,” Foote said.

Both the school she previously worked at and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, where she now works, were big supporters of the project, Foote said.

“I am currently focusing on upcoming art projects, but I just started as a Communications Specialist for the NIWRC,” Foote said. “It’s my goal to keep pursuing children’s literature and visual storytelling.”

Foote said she’s currently in the early stages of working on a graphic novel, as well as doing commission work. Hope said she actually has her own children’s book in the works, alongside her numerous other projects. The release of Celebration has been momentous, Hope said.

“I just have to keep exhaling into stuff. The adrenaline of making is one part of that experience. It’s out in the world like a baby that’s taking its first steps,” Hope said. “I do all the things with lots and lots of support. And asking for help. Asking for lots of help and accepting lots of help.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

The Norwegian Sun sat moored in Juneau on Monday after striking striking ice Saturday afternoon near Yakutat Bay on its way to Skagway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Update: Cruise ship that struck iceberg departs Juneau

It’s heading to Seattle for repairs.

Drag queen Gigi Monroe reads a book about a wig during Drag Storytime at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
One for the books: Drag Storytime returns

Balloons, books, bustin’ moves.

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Most Read