The “For Our Children: Chilkat Regalia Woven in the Lineage of Jennie Thlunaut & Clarissa Rizal” exhibit at Juneau Douglas City Museum was the culmination of two years of planning, preparation, patience, and sisterhood. The project was envisioned by my sister, Lily Hope. The livestream of the first dance, captured and hosted by Sealaska Heritage Institute can be accessed here: click to watch! For a really nice overview of the project, read the feature on KTOO: click to read!

The creation of my robe and my apprenticeship with my sister was funded in part by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, as well as Native Arts and Cultures Foundation‘s SHIFT grant in partnership with Goldbelt Heritage Foundation.

I’m so proud of these weavers and our indigenous cultures for the love of our people and connection to Spirit. For the past several decades, there have been countless forces interfering with access to the security and support systems necessary to practice traditional ways and “art forms”. Today was a testimony to our healing. So few humans have ever attempted to weave a Chilkat weaving in the history of the world, but last week we celebrated the completion of 19+ child-size ceremonial robes.

A couple dozen of us weavers were able to participate in the finishing workshop intensive organized by Lily. It included weaving together all day long — which was packed full of laughing and crying. We shared lunch together, and then went hope in a few different cohorts to separate AirBnbs. Staying with my group of ladies in the evenings was definitely one of the highlights of this experience — I was exposed to all sorts of trickery (RAVENS!!), cultural knowledge and fish and herring eggs of course!

The first dance event was held on February 1st at Sealaska Heritage Institute, where all 19 apprentice robes, 3 mentor teacher robes, and child-size robes woven by master weavers Clarissa Rizal and Jennie Thlunaut were danced into being by the Tlingit Culture Language and Literacy Program students.

I’m infinitely proud of my sister for her ability to bring people together in the way that she does. We were raised in a household where creative community was at the center, and the unique way that her heart and hands hold space is a delight to witness and be a part of.

** featured photo by Sydney Akagi / Scott Burton