Release ceremony planned for Raven stamp

A U.S. Postal Service stamp designed by a Tlingit and Athabascan artist will make its public debut on Friday.

Rico Lanáat’ Worl designed the Raven Story forever stamp, which will be unveiled at Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Building at 11 a.m. on Friday, the USPS and SHI announced. The stamp is the first to be illustrated by a Tlingit artist, according to SHI, a Juneau-based nonprofit that protects and promotes Southeast Alaska Native arts and culture.

The unveiling ceremony will be attended by Worl; Jakki Krage Strako, U.S. Postal Service chief commerce and business solutions officer and executive vice president; Marlene Johnson, chair, Sealaska Heritage Institute Board of Trustees; Beth Weldon, mayor of Juneau; and Frank Henry Kaash Katasse, playwright, actor and educator. The ceremony will be moderated by Lance (X’unei) A. Twitchell, associate professor of Alaska Native languages, University of Alaska Southeast, according to SHI. Members of the Lukaax.ádi and their clan children will dance.

The ceremony will be livestreamed through SHI’s YouTube channel, and the public is welcome to attend. There will be a street closure for the ceremony, Juneau Police Department announced. The closure will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will occur on Seward Street between Front Street and Municipal Way.

[Putting his stamp on it]

The stamp itself merges traditional Northwest Coast art with modern design, according to SHI, and it depicts one of the many stories about Raven, who figures prominently into many traditional tales of Indigenous peoples in Southeast Alaska.

“Many depictions of this story show Raven with the Sun in his mouth representing the stealing of the Sun. I was trying to showcase a bit of drama,” Worl said in a news release announcing the ceremony. “The climax of the story is after Raven has released the sun and the moon and has opened his grandfather’s final precious box, which contained the stars. In this design, I am imagining Raven in a panicked state of escape — transforming from human form to raven form and holding on to as many stars as he can while trying to escape the clan house.”

Worl’s work came to the attention of a USPS art director, who saw Worl’s work in the National Museum of the American Indian gift store in Washington, D.C.

The story behind the stamp will be featured on USPS social media accounts beginning at 1 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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