Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will donate eight large panels depicting ancient Southeast Alaska Native core cultural values to Floyd Dryden Middle School.
The panels, which stand 5 feet wide and nearly 7 feet tall, were a main feature of SHI’s first exhibit at the opening of its Walter Soboleff Building in 2015. The panels are in the shape of a tináa or copper shield, a symbol of wealth and commerce signifying the riches that came from the ancient interrelationship and trade among the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshians and neighboring tribes. They were originally affixed to double-sided structures, so there are two panels per value.
The panels tell of traditional values that have helped to sustain the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures for thousands of years. The values are so important they are instilled in young Native people to this day, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
As part of SHI’s Baby Raven Reads program, Worl recently authored “Native Values: Living in Harmony,” a children’s book highlighting those four values.
“Our ancient values are as relevant now as they were more than 10,000 years ago. We created the panels to highlight the wisdom of our ancestors, and we are offering them to the school to share these values with all children,” said Worl, noting the donation underscores SHI’s goal to promote cross-cultural understanding.
The core cultural values the panels honor are:
· Haa Aaní: Our Land: Honoring & Utilizing our Land (Haida: Íitl’ Tlagáa; Tsimshian: Na Yuubm)
· Haa Latseen: Our Strength: Strength of Body, Mind, and Spirit (Haida: Íitl’ Dagwiigáay; Tsimshian: Na Yugyetga’nm)
· Haa Shuká: Past, Present, and Future Generations: Honoring our Ancestors and Future Generations (Haida: Íitl’ Kuníisii; Tsimshian: Na Hlagigyadm)
· Wooch Yax: Balance: Social and Spiritual Balance (Haida: Gu dlúu; Tsimshian: Ama Mackshm).
It took nearly eight months to curate content and to manufacture the panels, which are made of a heavy composite material. The panels were on display in the Nathan Jackson Gallery, which will feature a new exhibit in 2018.
The ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22. at Floyd Dryden Middle School. Principal Jim Thompson will be on hand to accept the gift. Speakers will include Vice Principal Haifa Sadighi, Indian Studies Director Barbara Cadiente-Nelson, Paul Marks (Raven, Lukaax.ádi), David Katzeek (Eagle, Shangukeidí) and SHI President Rosita Worl. Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is assisting with the ceremony.