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Juneau Tlingit artist designs stamp for US Postal Service

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The new USPS stamp designed by Tlingit artist Rico Lanat Worl

Artwork by a Tlingit artist from Juneau will be featured on a new set of postage stamps for distribution next year.

Rico Lanat Worl is the founder of Trickster Company, a Juneau-based design store that incorporates traditional Northwest Coast art into everything from t-shirts and stickers to skateboards and basketballs.

He said an artistic director of the United States Postal Service, Antonio Alcala, called him one day.

He had apparently discovered some artwork by Trickster Companys at the gift shop of the National American Indian Museum in DC. That’s sort of where our discussion started on making this design happen, Worl said.

Worl decided to go with a scene from the traditional story of Raven freeing the sun, moon, and stars for her design. He said he kept a national audience in mind.

You know, there are so many depictions of Raven and the Daylight Story Box, Worl said. It was almost a bit ridiculous to do it again, but I felt like it was an important story that gives people a gateway to learn more about Tlingit culture.

His design depicts Raven escaping through the fireplace as he reverts to human form. It is an exciting and chaotic scene. There are stars stuck in its feathers and the sun is in its mouth.

Worl said he believed the decision to include his artwork on a stamp was part of a larger movement for better representation of Indigenous stories.

I think the USPS is sort of in sync with everyone trying to figure out how to empower indigenous people to tell their own stories. It’s just an honor to be able to be a part of and represent, Worl said.

According to the Sealaska Heritage Institute, the Postal Service had planned to unveil the stamp at Celebration 2020, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic. SHI is working with the agency to organize a release ceremony next year.

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