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

Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read