Welcome to Klukwan

Nestled in the valley of the Chilkat Mountains, alongside the Chilkat River, lies the Tlingit village of Klukwan. This beautiful place is the home of the Chilkat Tlingit people and often referred to as the capital of Tlingit culture.

After generations of pressure to become westernized and forced abandonment their generational practices, there has been a revival of art, language & culture in this region.   Their ancestors were known as expert weavers, wood carvers, line form painters, dancers, musicians and storytellers.  In recent years, they have sought to understand & learn these art forms, preserve their heritage in order to pass them on to future generations.  The Jilkaat Kwann Heritage Center in Klukwan plays a central role in this process. 

Welcome to the Jilkaat Kwann Heritage Center!
The replica community house built for the heritage center & their culture camp program.

The Whale House Collection is one of the most highly acclaimed collections of Pacific Northwest Coast art in existence. The traditional art of woodcarving & form-line drawing are featured throughout the community and their collection of Chilkat blankets are the work of a new generation of master weavers sharing their craft. This week it will be my joy to learn, listen & observe this rich cultural resurrection as I have the honor to participate & encourage this growth.

The revival of Raven’s tail & Chilkat weaving techniques on display.

First, we begin with the very traditional art of berry picking in the mountains! Sourcing from nature is a primary means of provision in this alaskan community.

The Journey to Haines

On Thursday I took off from Sacramento on the first leg of my travels to the village of Klukwan, AK. I landed in Seattle amidst clouds & watched over my 3 hr layover as a rainstorm moved in.  It was enjoyable to watch with my fellow passengers as we chatted together in our seats at the gate.  Fortunately, it did not delay our flight to Juneau but it did make it difficult to see anything but clouds all the way there.  We landed in the midst of rain and after retrieving my bags, I walked across the street to my warm dry hotel room. I was glad to sink into bed after a long day of travel.

That night as I attempted to sleep, the wind picked up and began pelting my window with rain.  The sound was like someone throwing pebbles at the glass a handful at a time.  This was not a great sign for the next day’s seaplane flight to Haines. This is was the view from my hotel room window the next morning…

5+o%RvSLTK6awEpOcxpPwQ.jpg

After checking out off the hotel and heading across the street with my luggage I checked into my flight only to hear that all flights were currently on hold. For an hour we waited to hear if the weather would clear and allow us to fly but eventually all flights were grounded for the day.  After rescheduling for the earliest available flight the next day, I left my bag of workshop materials with the airline and headed back out in the rain with my luggage to book another night at the hotel.

Once settled back in a room, I headed out into Juneau on foot to find something to eat. Thankfully there was a diner around the corner where I sat listening to the people & their stories swirl around me while I nursed my coffee over eggs & toast. I found a place to get some soup fo later and then returned to the hotel to spend the ‘bonus’ day reading & preparing for my workshops. It became a nice opportunity to pause.

The next day, I awoke to a grey but not windy or rainy day.  I checked out at 6am to head across to the airport in hopes of getting any of the 3 earlier flights to Haines. There was a wedding that day in the village of Klukwan that I had been invited to attend.  I did my best but due to all the cancelled flights the day before every seat was filled.  My flight took off at 1pm with mix of sun and patches of blue sky and was worth the wait! What a beautiful view I had from the front of the plane!

ySbM1MI5S3moNlH3uvZ5CQ

What a joy it was to land in Haines & be greeted by friends! Now, let the rest of the adventure begin!

This trip is funded entirely from support through the patrons of New Joy Arts. You can become a patron and give!

DONATE HERE

Encouraging Arts & Faith in South Eastern Alaska

IKhowRF9QB+o5gIH8cZpPA
A Traditional Tlingit Button Blanket Design

This week I am busy preparing for Creation: A Journey Through Life, Faith & Art,  a week long hands-on workshop series for the community of Klukwan, Alaska. I have been invited to come share about the importance of creativity in all areas of life. Specifically, we will explore its role in understanding our identity, our faith and our culture. I am so honored to have this opportunity to both share and to learn from the Tlingit people.

We will begin on Sunday 9/22 with a community art project where individuals will create small felt button blankets which hang together on the last day as a banner of belonging.  This project will stretch through the week as individuals create their own design  in the traditional method (as pictured above) and adorn them with buttons.

Then each workshop during the week will include a discussion about creating, feature a local artist, looking at examples of artistic creation in its various forms and doing hands on activities to explore our own creativity. For a full description read the Klukwan Flyer.

This event is being hosted by the local church in Klukwan at no charge at the community center for all who would like to attend.  The church is housing me and providing for me while I am there. However, New Joy Arts is supplying all of the materials for the workshop & gifting them to the church so that they may host more community arts events in the future.  The expense of my transportation to Klukwan & these supplies I am bringing will be covered solely through charitable donations.  You can help cover these costs by giving a tax-deductible donation.

DONATE HERE