Tideland Warrior [ensemble]
Merino wool, silk, leather, long-haired goat fur, mother-of-pearl. Chilkat and Ravenstail ceremonial regalia ensemble, 2021. In the collection of Newark Museum of Art.
Tideland Warrior was inspired by my clan, the T’akdeintaan (the black legged kittiwake from the seagull family). T’akdeintaans eat only fish and beach creatures and never trash, they won’t drink fresh water, and they are rarely found on land unless they’re perching on high cliffs during breeding season.
T’akdeintaans soar above the situation and see through boundaries, finding new ways to move forward; for this reason, they tend to be highly creative. They have a knack for turning the most unlikely things to their advantage. They love to congregate in crowds and have no trouble defining their space in everyday situations. Generally speaking, they sit well in fear, are willing to test their comfort zones, and will look people in the eye and challenge them to find a better way to resolve issues.
In the Tlingit matrilineal culture, your clan is inherited from your mother. My momma grew up in Juneau. I grew up in Colorado, high in the mountains and very far from the sea. For so many reasons, I convinced myself that I was not Native, and that I’d never make the art my momma made because if I did it would be appropriation. I was not T’akdeintaan because T’aks don’t live inland. I pictured the boxes that I would never fit into: white and Indigenous. And then I tried to create a brand new box to build myself into. That box was iron clad and rigid as ever.
In 2016, my mother and sister weaseled me into weaving a Ravenstail square for a collaborative robe project. I wove it in my iron box, and didn’t eat or sleep until it was finished for fear of coming untethered from this newfound feeling of connection to infinite lineage. That tiny weaving was a product of generations of gatherings and knowledge that came through me, showing me that Indigenousness thrives in communion and soars in sharing, and can’t be contained within boxes and borders.
So, this new woven ensemble was inspired by T’aks, but as the creative process unfolded, lots of green came through. And this is probably because I am a T’ak living amongst the Ponderosa Pines.
This ceremonial regalia was conceived to evoke the warrior. Warriors lead, but only with the voices of their people. They speak loud, to define the unheard. They stand in confidence, held by the truths of their people. They are strong, to uplift the weary.
The abstract formline shapes of this ensemble were woven with silk and merino wool weft yarns, twined around cedar bark and merino wool warp. The warp ends were cut from the extra-long fringe of my first robe (Woman as a Wave), and so they are all sisters. The clasps are mother of pearl and the fur is long-haired goat; all vintage to honor our past and protect our future.
This ensemble was modeled by the magnificent Jessica Stallings, who is also a mixed Alaska Native (Iñupiaq) transplant now living and loving in Colorado. It was once again photographed by my genius and generous brother, Kahlil Hudson.