Chilkoot Indian Association launches traditional arts learning program | KHNS Radio

Mentor Lily Hope (right) and apprentice Karen Taug start the first two rows of her Chilkat blanket (Photo by Scott Burton @sburtonsound)

The Chilkoot Indian Association has launched a program to learn traditional Lingít arts. The year-long initiative will pair mentor artists with apprentices to develop traditional skills – and foster vital cultural and traditional knowledge of the Chilkat Valley. Reporting by Corinne Smith of KHNS.


The first cohort of the Chilkoot Indian Association’s Traditional Arts Learning Program began earlier this month and focused on Chilkat weaving and silver carving.

Harriet Brouillette, tribal administrator for the Chilkoot Indian Association, says the apprenticeship program is part of a larger initiative to help tribal members develop their art, traditional skills and valley crafts. Chilkat.

“Our apprenticeship program is a way to develop master artists. What we see in our community is that we are losing our master artists,” Brouillette said. “Actually, through AIA (Alaska Indian Arts), we have master artists, but they’re reaching retirement age. And we don’t have the ability or haven’t had the ability to train master artists to take their place.

Three mentor artists will work with four apprentices over the next year. They will increase the level of traditional skills, creativity and expand intergenerational cultural and traditional knowledge.

Mentors include Weaver read hope who will work with Karen Taug on dyeing and weaving techniques, versions of the Chilkat braid and how to weave a perfect circle.

Marsha Hotch, master weaver and fluent Lingít speaker, will work with Cara Gilbert and Gwen Sauser on weaving techniques, language ties, clan histories, goat wool processing and dyeing, leg spinning and knitting. incorporation of cedar bark.

Apprentices Gilbert and Sauser are the great-granddaughters of famed Chilkat weaver Jenny Thlunaut.

silver sculptor Greg Horner will work with an apprentice Rob Martin on soldering, ring making, gem and stone inlay, and silver working skills.

Brouillette says it is essential to support artists, who will then pass on their craft to future generations.

“We have a very solid base of new artists who are dedicated to their craft, they just need a little extra help,” Brouillette said. “So we join them with master artists. And the idea is that with this program, we can develop our own master artists and then they can help the next generation.

A federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will support the program. Apprentices and mentors will document their process with blog posts, deliver a workshop, and at the end of the year, the final products will be showcased in a community exhibit.

The Chilkoot Indian Association is accepting applications for the second cohort, which will begin Oct. 1. See the app here.

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