An historic naaxein (Chilkat robe) purchased at auction and donated to the Sealaska Heritage Institute. (Photo courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)

An historic naaxein (Chilkat robe) purchased at auction and donated to the Sealaska Heritage Institute. (Photo courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)

Neighbors briefs

Six people purchase historic chilkat robe at auction, give to SHI

Six people in the Lower 48 have purchased an historic naaxein (Chilkat robe) at auction and donated it to Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), where it can be studied by artists to perpetuate this ancient and endangered art form.

The robe, estimated to be at least 150 years of age by the highly esteemed Haida Chilkat weaver Evelyn Vanderhoop, has great historical significance because its design appeared on the first robe of its kind traded from the Tsimshian to the Chilkat Tlingits in Klukwan, she said.

“The history of the robe and the honor this design continues to receive from the Chilkat people make this a very valuable acquisition,” Vanderhoop said.

SHI President Rosita Worl, a Chilkat Tlingit from Klukwan, called the donation a wonderful gift.

“We are grateful and indebted to the people who came together to make this extraordinary donation to SHI. Our ancestor is coming home to teach our weavers about this ancient art form and design. This is a joyous occasion for us,” Worl said.

The Tsimshian people pioneered the technique of Chilkat weaving, one of the most difficult and complex art forms in the world. After the Klukwan Tlingits acquired that first robe, Chilkat women took it apart and learned how to weave the robes themselves, said Worl, an anthropologist. The weavers were so prolific, the blankets became known as Chilkat robes.

SHI staff became aware the robe was for sale through MBA Seattle Auction House, but its $39,000 price put it beyond the nonprofit’s reach.

That’s when a perfect storm ensued. Three weavers, including Vanderhoop, Lily Hope and Kandi McGilton, contacted Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, the curator of Northwest Native art at the Burke Museum in Washington, searching for a way to stop the robe from returning to private hands, where it had lived for many years. Together, they encouraged a small group of donors to purchase the robe and donate it to SHI so that it would be accessible to Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people for study in perpetuity.

“I think the redeeming part about the story is that all of us can work together to make these good things happen,” said Bunn-Marcuse. “We can come together across different institutions and communities to make sure that historical creations are accessible to contemporary artists and community members.”

Two of the donors, Bob and Rita Moore, have a deep connection to SHI. They attended SHI’s biennial Celebration for the first time in 2014 and have gone to every event since (except 2020, when it was virtual due to the pandemic). They’ve also made contributions to SHI that included funds to establish SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building and its Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus, among other donations.

Other donors included Nancy Kovalik, Martha and Eugene Nester and Ashley Verplank McClelland.

The institute plans to hold a ceremony to welcome the robe home and bring the spirits back to life.

The first round of winners of the Fireweed Award in 2024. (Photo courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

The first round of winners of the Fireweed Award in 2024. (Photo courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

Bartlett Regional Hospital Announces First Fireweed Award Recipients of 2024

Bartlett Regional Hospital is pleased to announce the first round of Fireweed Award recipients in 2024 for their exceptional care and service to the community. A total of 48 nominations were submitted this past quarter, and four employees were randomly selected for hospital wide recognition:

Angela Johnston is an Obstetrics Nurse who was nominated by a patient’s husband for her “above and beyond care” of his wife and newborn baby. “Angela was a wonderful nurse. Night shift is hard enough, but Angela was always positive and thinking about ways to help my wife. She was awesome, wonderful, and really took the time to be exceptional for us.”

Angeline Randall is a Behavioral Health Assistant who was nominated by a colleague for going the extra mile. “Angie consistently engages with patients in a compassionate manner and goes the extra mile to make the experience therapeutic and engaging for those we serve. Recently, she updated the resources at Rainforest Recovery Center (RRC) to bolster the therapeutic and fun activities we provide for clients. Thank you, Angie, keep up the amazing work!”

Shayna Rohwer is an Obstetrics Nurse who received four nominations this quarter from patient’s families and colleagues for her excellence in care and model service to our community. A colleague noted that “Shayna is an exemplary RN, a true role model and one of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met. Shayna makes everyone around her feel welcomed, appreciated, and truly cared for.” A patient’s family shared that “from the moment we met Shayna during the birth of our daughter she was instantly a beacon of stability, strength, and kindness through the entire process of my wife’s labor. By the end, both my wife and I felt incredibly lucky to have been paired with someone so caring and kind while also having the skills and knowledge to allow us to have our birth as close to the way we wanted it as possible.”

Ruby Stephens is a Certified Nursing Assistant who was nominated by two colleagues for her excellent customer service with patients in the Medical/Surgical Unit. “Ruby is always willing to help her colleagues and assist patients even if the patient hasn’t been assigned to her. She is a team player, always has a good attitude, and is very knowledgeable – it’s a pleasure to work with her.”

A celebration event was held on campus and each recipient received a recognition pin, a gift card courtesy of the BRH Foundation, and a designated parking spot for the quarter.

Nominations for next quarter are currently being accepted. To submit a nomination, visit bartletthospital.org/fireweedaward. Continuing sponsorship for this award is generously provided by the BRH Foundation.

Baby Raven Reads book wins award from American Indian Library Association

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s book “Celebration” has won a 2024 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor from the American Indian Library Association (AILA).

The book “Celebration” won a 2024 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor from the American Indian Library Association. (Courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute)

The book “Celebration” won a 2024 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor from the American Indian Library Association. (Courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute)

AILA, an affiliate of the American Library Association, gives biennial awards to identify and honor “the best writings and illustrations for youth, by and about Native American and Indigenous peoples of North America.”

The book, which was illustrated by Tlingit artist Jaax̱snée Kelsey Mata Foote and authored by Tlingit writer and artist Da.áat Lily Hope, was published through Baby Raven Reads, a Sealaska Heritage program for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5 that promotes language development and school readiness.

“Celebration” is one of five books in North America to receive the honor this year.

“Once again, we are astounded and humbled by the extraordinary reception our Baby Raven Reads books have received,” said SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D. “It’s so important for Native children to see their cultures accurately reflected in books and school materials. We are grateful to the AILA for elevating books across the continent that achieve this goal.”

The book, which was published in 2022, tells the story of the institute’s biennial dance-and-culture festival, Celebration, as seen from a young girl’s point of view.

The story brings readers into the life of one particular child, who has already learned about Celebration and who eagerly anticipates the event, wrote SHI President Rosita Worl in the foreword.

“We see how grandparents in our society play an important role in teaching our youth about our traditional culture and the songs and stories of our clans. She clearly sees that Native culture and Celebration will continue to play an important part in her life,” Worl wrote.

The story begins with a ferry trip to Juneau and culminates with the young girl’s dance performance at Centennial Hall, before she attends some of Celebration’s associated events, including the Toddler Regalia Review, the Native Artist Market and the Indigenous Fashion Show.

“Celebration” received this honor because of the illustrations, which were made by Mata Foote, who is Raven of the Taakw.aaneidí clan, and the story, which was written by Hope, who is Raven of the T’aḵdeintaan clan.

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