Kaa Shaayí fka KáaSháyee

Creating Connections: Art, Community, Heritage

About Kaa Shaayí

Originating from Ketchikan, Alaska, ​Kaa Shaayí is a member of the Tlingit Tribe. Like many Native Americans, Kaa Shaayí’s cultural identity has been heavily disrupted by colonialism. He is dedicated to piecing together his Tlingit identity through art and education.

Kaa Shaayí started his career as a Graphic Designer in 2009. Over the years, he has expanded his artwork into other mediums but has maintained a focus on revitalizing Northwest Coast Native Art and style. He was selected as a recipient of the Connections to Culture Visiting Researcher Grant from the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum in 2022 and 2023.

In 2022, Kaa Shaayí extensively researched their paddle collection, carefully documenting their craftsmanship to create schematics for future paddle replicas. In 2023, he turned his attention to the collection of early contact to precontact Tlingit Formline decorated objects. His goal was to enhance his understanding of design and concepts within Tlingit visual language.

Kaa Shaayí graduated from Northwest Indian College with highest honors in June of 2022, receiving his Associate in Arts & Science Degree. He is currently in his senior year, continuing at Northwest Indian College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Native Studies Leadership with a Northwest Coast Arts emphasis.

Looking towards the future, Kaa Shaayí is contemplating the expansion of his academic pursuits through a graduate program in Anthropology. His focus is primarily centered on the contemporary resurgence and adaptation within Indigenous art forms, with a special emphasis on Formline and Coast Salish designs. Kaa Shaayí aims to dedicate his studies to bridging the cultural divides brought about by colonization, thereby fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Native cultures and their evolving artistic expressions.

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