The new livery on N559AS:
Growing up near the shores of Juneau, Crystal Kaakeeyáa Rose Demientieff Worl was used to seeing Alaska Airlines fly over the mountains into her hometown. She says she dreamed of having her artwork displayed on a plane for years — that dream became a reality.
Crystal’s latest masterpiece: Xáat Kwáani (Salmon People). It’s the first aircraft in the history of any domestic airline to be named in an Alaska Native language and to depict the ancestral importance through Northwest Coast formline art.
“My heart is so full and warm,” says Crystal. “Every time I create something big or small, it’s the same feeling of just fulfilling this need and wanting to create something and share my story, to stimulate something that’s in me that feels connected. It feels good to say that I live in Juneau and fish and hunt here and eat off this land. My family’s been here for a long time, and I can say my ancestors are from here, and I’m eating the same food in the same place that they once were, and that’s really special to be able to share that and say that and feel that—and to create and retell their stories through my eyes. It’s powerful.”
Crystal’s expressive designs purposefully blend the old and new. Her work, whether it’s printmaking, painting or public art, recreates and modernizes her ancestors’ stories and explores the relationships and bonds that her people, the land and the animals share with Alaska so that generations learn its importance through traditional formline design, which dates back thousands of years. She says this aircraft will serve as a gateway to represent Alaska Natives, and she’s incredibly proud.
Her grandmother, Rosita Worl, remembers how even as a young toddler, Crystal couldn’t sit still, “The only thing that would slow her down were bright, bold, contrasting colors or patterns. I knew then she was going to be an artist,” she said.
A tribute to strength and resilience
As a tribute to salmon and its ancestral importance, this aircraft is the first in the country to be named in an Alaska Native language and the first time Alaska Airlines has featured a language besides English on the main door of an aircraft.
“This will be significant to have Indigenous language on an airplane,” says Crystal. “People will see it, they’ll read it, they’ll try to say ‘Xáat Kwáani’ (Salmon People), and they’ll want to know more and be curious to learn about it and want to feel connected to it. I think that’s significant in terms of the relationship we need to make between our languages that need speakers. So, I’m excited to be part of this.”
Learn to pronounce Xáat Kwáani
During the design process, Crystal worked with people close to her and we shared the design with employees from our Native Employee Network (NEN) business resource group, and multiple community leaders in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast.
Top Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890 SSWL N559AS (msn 35178) (Xáat Kwáani – Salmon People) SEA (Nick Dean). Image: 960712.
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