Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has released a video series that teaches how to prepare materials to make Chilkat and Ravenstail robes in an effort to support artists and spark a cottage industry, especially in rural areas.
The goals are to encourage intergenerational learning and to provide an income for people interested in naturally dyeing weft yarns and thigh-spinning wool warp.
“I’m hoping that entrepreneurial craftspeople recognize their value in supporting excellence in Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving along the Northwest Coast. We weavers want to buy materials from craftspeople so we can keep focusing on weaving,” Hope said.
Sealaska Heritage Institute has sent raw weaving materials to students enrolled in its STEAM math classes in grades 6-8 attending Dzantik'i Heeni, Floyd Dryden, and Blatchley middle schools in Juneau and Sitka. The video series will be a core component of lessons to teach dyeing and weaving, and Sealaska Heritage Institute will sponsor a workshop for teachers and community members in Angoon, Hoonah, Juneau, Klawock, Sitka and Wrangell, who will eventually work with schools to teach weaving prep to students.
“Our goal is to partner with our rural and urban schools and communities to grow a pool of experts in this area who may also go on to learn Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving themselves,” said Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl.
The series is part of Sealaska Heritage Institute’s effort to preserve the knowledge on how to make traditional art forms, especially those identified by artists as endangered during a Native artist gathering sponsored by the institute in 2015.
Since then, Sealaska Heritage Institute has produced other free tutorials, including a series on how to prepare and weave spruce roots and videos on how to carve horn spoons. The institute is currently working on a book on how to make traditional dugout canoes, an ancient practice that was almost lost.
Sealaska Heritage Institute collaborated with Scott Burton Productions on the series, which was partially funded by The CIRI Foundation. Hope acknowledged Nadia Sethi, a program director at The CIRI Foundation, and her mentors, Kay Parker and Patty Fiorella.
The series is available on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s YouTube channel.
About Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. Sealaska Heritage Institute also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.