Sealaska Heritage continues to publish beautifully crafted books in Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida, the Native languages of Southeast Alaska. Three titles from 2019 provide engaging material for children under five and their families to learn about these languages and the cultures they express in that sturdiest of form, the board book.
Xanggáay: Learn the Colors in Xaad Kíl introduces readers to the Haida words for basic colors using examples from nature that children in Southeast Alaska will be familiar with: plants, animals, and the sun. Many of the illustrations, which were created by David Lang, employ a traditional formline style. The colors are vibrant and engaging. Words are presented first in Xaad Kíl, with English below. Skíl Jáadei (Linda Schrak) and K’uyáang (Benjamin Young) chose the words for the very simple text.
From the Sealaska Heritage website, a link to pronunciation can be heard here.
|Xanggáay: Learn the Colors in Xaad Kíl|
Similarly, Wilgyigyet: Learn the Colors in Sm’algyax, uses the same format and illustrations by Lang to present the Tsimshian words for colors. In this case, the Haayk Foundation contributed the text. The link to pronunciation is here.
|Wilgyigyet: Learn the Colors in Sm’algyax|
Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska, illustrated by Crystal Kaakeeyáa Worl, is a more complex book. Not only is it tri-lingual, with three lullabies each in Lingit (Tlingit), Xaad Kíl (Haida), and Sm’algyax (Tsimshian), it includes English translations for each and comes with a CD. Some songs have been passed down from elders, some were adapted from older texts, and some are new creations.
|Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska|
The artwork in Cradle Songs, while still appropriate for a board book’s young audience, is more complex. The style combines traditional and modern elements to compliment the snippets of story in each song. I particularly enjoy the illustration of a young girl, drawn in formline style, “packing something up the hill” — an armful of books!
I love the work that Sealaska Heritage is doing to create beautiful, engaging, and useful books that authentically represent Southeast Alaska Native cultures and promote these living languages. These and other books can be purchased from the Sealaska Heritage website, which contains an array of language materials in Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida.