In doing an internet search on Chilkat and Ravens-tail weaving. I found that what is lacking is the spiritual and cultural perspective. The Native voice.
This is our weaving. This is our culture.
There are non-native people who are responsible for the current “Imitation of Tradition” so prevalent of this day and age. What truly amazes me is they apparently don’ t see the irony.
We who know the true tradition are responsible for maintaining our circle.
We do not need to reach the world.
We need to reach our circle.
Our people are our circle.
Our weavings have only one purpose- to maintain our circle.
Circles enclose. Our clans are our circles.
Chilkat weaving produces perfect circles for a reason.
Naaxein is what call our Chilkat weaving.
Naaxein is the fringe that encloses the body.
The spirit that wraps around us. A wrapping of spirit.
Naaxein is a body that holds spirits. So the construction or creation process is an act of spirit.
The act of wearing the Naaxein is an act of spirit.

“I” does not exist as a weaver.
A weaver does not get a ” big head”.
A weaver learns to sit her ” little bitty ego” beside herself.
A weaver is a channel for all the weavers before her – in her bloodline, in her DNA.
She is part of the never ending circle.
Herself remembers, she is they, they are she.

The neuron pathways in her brain open as she weaves. Complex brain chemistry is activated.
Her self remembers. And she weaves magic.

The weavers intent is focused. She is weaving this Naaxein , in this design, at this time, for one purpose. To replace the old – old one at the proper time for a new- old one.
Just as the old one carried the spirits of all those of the clan who wore it and carried the spirits of the living to the spirits of the dead, so to the spirits of the dead can recognize the new body of the Naaxein . Reborn just as the clan leader is reborn.
So a new Naaxein is really an an old Naaxein just as the new clan leader is really an an old ancestor in a new body.
In order not to confuse the ancestor spirits the weaver has no creative impulses to change up, or jazz up, or tweak,modify,do it different, or experiment, play, interpret, invent, express herself, take shortcuts, explore, or practice.
She just does it the right way. She does it the way she was taught. She adheres to tradition.
She does this because she respects tradition.
She does not presume that traditions that have been traditions since time immemorial are her place to change.
Besides, she does not want any un- invited spirit guests accidentally gaining access.

If she does not choose to follow tradition and indulges her ego and big head she is a witch playing with power for selfish ends.

Fortunately, since the creation of Naaxein is an act of spirit, and Spirit is able to be Spirit, anyone not following tradition still has to deal with Spirit. Spirit is well able to take care of Itself.

So this is my perspective, if an ignorant person, in innocence creates an un- traditional imitation, then it stands to reason that that the result will also contain ignorance and innocence, any nothing more. Nothing else has been channeled because that can only be done in the traditional manner.

The Imitation is Powerless.

The moment the weaver starts putting intent in the creation of the new body for the Naaxein it sticks.

Which is why the weaver learns to leave her” little bitty ego” beside herself.

Feelings and emotions are the fuel for intent. They stick to Naaxein really well.

The never weaves for herself or wears her own weavings. She weaves for her ” opposites” , her fathers people. For her in- laws.
This tradition of doing for our opposites helps strengthen the clans into a larger circle.

Maintaining the balance between opposites is the foundation of our Tlingit Culture.

May all your circles be balanced.


Did anyone go home? Can anyone go home? Is home still there? Is the geography the same? Are the people the same?
Did anybody get the feeling that they have no home to go home too.?
Or, are you already home and never left?
Are there other people living where you used too? Is there a new factory or did they clear-cut the forest? Are there clean rivers and lakes?
Happy babies and comfortable homes that blend into their environments?
Or maybe not.
My point is that being indigenous is being at home. It is the same place and the same people doing the same things forever.
The indigenous people’s of the earth know that we have to fit where we are because it is our place. We know that we are home. Not only the caretakers but somehow we are also taken care of. And we want to keep having happy babies cuz that’s what it really is all about – children are work. Grandchildren are joy. If you have Great grandchildren then maybe you can begin to understand the indigenous viewpoint. We know that we are part of the place. Even non indigenous Americans start feeling possevive of place when it is threatened but the real indigenous feeling is more like being possessed by place. Live or die you belong only to one place.
Since time immemorial Tlingit people have been making a a statement to anyone looking. We make a textile called naaxein. Which means the spirit that wraps Round you. This textile is a wonder of construction and even non-native weavers marvel at the complex techniques employed in the construction still not having a clue how to read the statement.
If you know the culture then you know that there is always another layer. There is always more than one thing being proclaimed and more than one purpose for every thing because all things are connected. All things are related. So this magnificent textile at its very core is telling about those connections and how we fit into the picture.


Ah yes,a very powerful word. The word Indigenous means the original living beings of a place. Indigenous beings are not invaders, not colonists, not immigrants, not transplanted but rather they are beings that arose from within a place. Gestated within a place. Thus we get the notions of “Mother Earth” and “Motherland”. Indigenous beings are Human Beings. In most cultures our name for our selves indicates that we are the Real People. All the other indigenous beings of a place are equally respected. The indigenous plants and animals and elements are with us and us with them because we are an interwoven unit. Together we thrive or die.
Personally, I am a Tlingit and my family is indigenous to the island I live on, so are flying squirrels and cedar trees.
Aboriginal is another powerful word that pretty much means the same thing. So you could say that Tlingit people are
Original Native Indigenous Aboriginal Indian Citizen Stakeholder Alaskan Americans.
I would just like to point out that perhaps all non- indigenous people living away from their homelands are illegal or immoral aliens. In our culture we banished bad people from living at home. So if you are not living in your Indigenous Homeland I encourage you to search out your roots and go home.

Greetings from Klawock,

It has been another blue sky day. Today my 4shaft floor loom and my 8-shaft Baby Wolf loooms settled into my new studio.
Next they get dressed for a rug for the floor and curtains for the windows.
A few years ago I made a supreme effort to limit my color palette to traditional Tlingit colors. Black.white. Yellow.Blue.
I ended up with adding a lovely rosey/tannin color from dying white wool in a cedar bark bath.
What fun to design the rugs next week.
As I navigate the learning curve on “how to blog pretty”, I will post design choice.
I am contemporizing some of the indigenous basket and robe geometric patterns. It should be lots of fun.
My robe loom is comming out too. Just to remind me spin and help me “see” the Chilkat robe I’ve been commissioned to make. I have two years before delivery so I better get started now.
There are still berries in the yard to be picked and wonderful fungi to search for.
See ya ,

Ain’t Too Young To Start Weaving

In the words of the late master Chilkat weaver, Jennie Thlunaut from Klukwan, Alaska…”Starting at a young age, my mamma let me play with the yarns…play, play, play…that’s how I began to learn how…” – Above is Clarissa Rizal’s  2-year-old granddaughter who, without being told, is figuring out how to place markers on the warp of the beginning of a child-size Chilkat robe.