Merino wool, silk, cedar bark. Child-size Chilkat blanket, 2023.

Last winter I proposed the design of this child-size Chilkat robe for the Renwick Gallery. I knew that it was going to live on a wall or in a drawer for at least a good part of its life, so instead of twining a design to infuse a tiny dancer with the power of a story, I decided to weave a prayer for its viewers. At that time, I was imagining a being that others could find solace and inspiration in, to help guide their paths. Someone that follows their intuition, looking up through their third eye to their higher self and the heavens. They simultaneously hold onto the treasure of their inner light — a gem inherited from their ancestors and yet one-of-a-kind. This is Sister Bear, who moves through this world with deep respect for the past and compassion for their present journey to inform their future. I wasn’t fully conscious of it then, but as the past year unfolded, I realized that this prayer came from my most desperate self. Through guided dream work and ceremony I was shown the depths of the sorrow that has carved out the woman I am today, and I met myself as an animal — a bear. It may seem obvious to you, as Ursala literally means bear, but it took a profound experience for me to see it and own it myself. So, as it turns out, I am “sister bear”, thirsty for divine connection and acceptance from my ancestors so that I myself can be “enough” of an ancestor. So that I’m deserving of this precious life.

This robe was a teacher in so so many ways and I’m infinitely grateful to the Greater Spirit for choosing me as a vessel for this work to come through.

Ceremonial work led by Feral Mysticism

This weaving project was funded in part by Goldbelt Heritage, Native Arts and Culture, and the Smithsonian

Photography by Sydney Akagi