The Chilkat River Robe is the first robe in the Three River Robe Series. My initial intention was to make this robe for my own regalia. In our culture the regalia you wear shows who you are and where you are from. Since I was born in Klukwan and I have lived here most of my life it is appropriate to show the world that I am from Chilkat. This was my first solo weaving project and it features the backbone of the salmon in the top border , then the side borders are the Hooligan Dip Net pattern, the bottom border is the rippling waters of the Chilkat River alternating wwith the reflections of the cottonwood trees that line the banks of the Chilkat. The center field features the Ravenstail or cross design with little pieces of abalone shell in their centers which represent the "treasure of the Chilkat" which is the five species of salmon that are found in the Chilkat River Robe.
The Basket Mother Robe is a tribute to my ancestors who were weavers. The inspiration and designs for this robe are the baskets in my family's collection which are shown in the photo. I also wanted to show the close relationship between the spruce root basketry tradition and the Ravenstail weaving tradition----there is a lot of overlap between the two traditions. This robe was featured in the Manawa-Pacific Heartbeat show at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver B.C. in 2005. The show featured Pacific Northwest Coast Artists with Maouri Artists from New Zealand.
The Tsirku River Robe is the third in the Three River Robe Series. Klukwan, where I live, is situated on the confluence of three rivers---the Chilkat,Klehini and Tsirku Rivers. This Robe tells the geological story of the Tsirku River. The Tsirku, as the other two rivers, are glacially fed waters thus the top border features the mountain design alternating with the glacier designs the side borders feature the spring run-off of waters from the surrounding mountains, and the bottom border features the rippling waters of the Tsirku as it cuts through the river flats and cottonwood trees. The centerfield designs are the geo-thermal upwellings that keep the Tsirku and Chilkat Rivers from freezing in the winter months, and the box design which alludes to the ancient story of how Raven stole the water from Ganook, who kept all the fresh water in the bentwood storage boxes in his clan house. The Tsirku robe was purchased by the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and is now part of their permanent collection.
I wove the Berries on Sunshine Mountain after the big economic crash in 2008. I was so worried about the economic situation--would our family survive? Would we be able to make ends meet? My faith and positive outlook was restored, however, when my friends invited me to go berry picking with them. The fall colors were spectacular, thus the color scheme in this weaving,and the berries were abundant. The branches were so laden with berries and it gave me such an enormous feeling of well-being. I thought, no matter what happens on Wall Street, God will take care of me. That summer was cold and wet and I really wasn't emotionally prepared to face the winter so that was part of my inspiration for weaving the sun in the top border. The sunshine was rather challenging to weave and I actually had to use algebra to figure out the different slopes needed for the sun's rays. If I went too steep, I could have missed the curve of the sun, the highbush cranberries and blueberries are framed by brown bars which represent the many logs we have to climb over to get to the berries. The bottom pattern is the salmon berry (orange) alternating with the leaves of the fireweed, which can come in many colors in the fall, but I went with the yellow in order to repeat the colors of the top border. It is my favorite weaving because it gives such a feeling of well-being to look at it.
These Chilkat Power Cuffs were inspired by the Amazon Warrior Women featured in the Wonder Woman movie. I was inspired by the legend of the Amazon women and it made me think of the Yanwaashaa---the warrior women of the Chilkat. In our oral history we have the legend of the Yanwaashaa who were said to have commandeered a navel ship during early contact days. The navy had some how brought injury or death to a Kaagwaantaan clansman and in such cases the offending party must make restitution. The Yanwaashaa took hold of the ship and demanded restitution and because they didn't fulfill that request, the Yanwaashaa women took the navy's crest and still sport the sailor hats during ceremonial events. The design on the power cuffs is a spirit face as the Spirit is the source of our power.