Native textiles exhibit showcases Tlingit weaving

Tlingit weaving is among the featured art at “The Spirit Wraps Around You: Northern Northwest Coast Native Textiles” exhibit on display through Oct. 9 at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.

Tlingit weaver Saantaas’ Lani Hotch, director of Klukwan’s Jilkaat Kwaan Heritag Center, is serving as co-curator of the exhibit on the history of ceremonial robes.

The exhibit traces the history of the sacred textiles known today as “Ravenstail” and “Chilkat”

Robes. Two dozen robes carry the story of Native weaving among the Tsimshian, Haida and Tlingit of Alaska and British Columbia, representing both ancient and modern ceremonial robs made by Alaska Native and First Nations weavers.

The robes, woven of plush white fur from mountain goats, were seen by early Euro-American visitors to the Northern Northwest Coast when they came in contact with First Nations and Alaska Native people. Their use is reserved for sacred ceremonies, where dancers wear them to display the crests of their clans. In the 1900s, only a few weavers carried these unique traditions into the 21st century.

Weavers who worked with the museum on the exhibit, in addition to Hotch, were Haides Evelyn Vanderhoop and Delores Churchill and Tsinshian Marie Oldfield. Assisting Juneau-area weavers included Tlingit Lily Hope, Haida Janice Criswell, Kay Parker, Marcia Stier and others.