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Posts tagged ‘alaska’

Return of the Sun

IG_08_21_GiveawayImageThe Path of Totality has tracked across the United States, and the moment of total solar eclipse has passed. Millions of eclipse watchers were watching the skies of North American, which will not see another eclipse like this until April 8, 2024. We’re celebrating the return of the sun with an Instagram giveaway. Click here for details: INSTAGRAM

And if you win that giveaway? Consider treating yourself to a Return of the Sun Blanket.

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The traditions and activities of the Iñupiat, today, as in the past, revolve around the changing of the seasons. This blanket, inspired by the artwork of Larry Ahvakana, celebrates the arrival of the sun back to the Arctic and the start of hunting season. The Iñupiat mark this special time with the Messenger Feast—a ceremony where the spirits of the past season’s harvest are ushered back into the spirit world. Today, the celebration fosters cultural pride and the regeneration of traditional values. This blanket is a collaboration between Pendleton Woolen Mills and the American Indian College Fund to honor and reawaken a vital part of Native history.

Return of the Sun was designed for the American Indian College Fund Blanket Series by Alaskan artist Larry Ahvakana. Born in Fairbanks, Larry was raised in Point Barrow until the age of six, when his family moved to Anchorage. He left behind his grandparents, his native tongue, and many of the traditional cultural influences that had shaped his childhood. But these have re-emerged through his art, becoming the basis for his inspired work. He works in a variety of media, including stone, glass, bone, metal and wood. His masks bring tradition to life with mythic imagery in old-growth wood.

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mask image courtesy of the Blart Museum

Larry has been a working artist since 1972. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also studied at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York. Larry is widely recognized as an educator, instructing over the years at the Institute of American Indian Art, heading the Sculpture Studio at the Visual Arts Center in Anchorage, Alaska, and founding a teaching studio for glass blowing in Barrow, Alaska. His works are included in a large number of major museums, corporate collections, private art collections and as public art commissions. You can learn more about his work here. And you can see all of the AICF blankets here. The sale of these blankets supports scholarships for Native American students.

As for the sun? Welcome back.

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A traditional Chilkat robe in Pendleton wool

On Earth Day, we published a beautiful photo of Linda Benson Kusumoto in her traditional Chilkat robe standing in front of the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska.

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To us, it captured the spirit of celebrating the Earth. Linda’s robe is made entirely of Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool, and was handmade by her. She was gracious enough to give us some information on it, as well as some photos of it at celebrations. Along with her Chilkat robe, she sent photos of her family wearing traditional button blankets, also made by Linda with Pendleton wool.

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Here is some background, courtesy of Linda.

My name is Linda Benson Kusumoto. I am a Tsimshian Native, from Metlakatla, Alaska. I lived part of my life in Portland, Oregon, where I found your wool and studied our traditional arts. Benson is my maiden name and is a Tsimshian family name.  When our tribe moved to Alaska, transitioned by Father Duncan (a missionary from England), the individuals were given English names.  My grandparents were given the name of Benson.

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Chilkat robe – I believe that this started with the Tsimshian (my tribe). Our tribe originated from British Columbia long the Nash River, Father Duncan moved half of our tribe to Metlakatla, Alaska.  It is said that the Tsimshian were once of the Nisgaa tribe.  I belong to both tribes as a registered tribal member, my primary tribe is the Tsimshian Nation of Metlakatla, Alaska. Our cities are Old Metlakatla, British Columbia and Metlakatla, Alaska on Annette Island (sometimes referred to as New Metlakatla). My father and grandparents were born and raised on Annette Island, Metlakatla, Alaska.  I was born in Seattle, Washington. With me in the photos are my daughter, Kelli  Jean Coy; my sister, Valerie Benson Callahan; and my first cousin, Coral Sumner Lehtinen.

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Traditional Alaska Native Button Blanket – These are made in traditional colors of red & black, and sometimes in royal blue and/or ivory.  These are designed, created and worn by the Tsimshian, Haida, and the Tlingit tribes of Alaska, especially for Celebration, held every other year in Juneau, Alaska.

Celebration – The button blankets and Chilkat robe shown in these photos have all been worn during Celebration, multiple years and for traditional potlatch ceremonies in Alaska. Here are some images of 2016 Celebration.

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This is a photo of me wearing my full regalia for Celebration 2016.  I also made leggings to match using Pendleton wool.  And I am wearing our traditional red cedar bark hat.

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Here is a button blanket that I made over 15 years ago and it still looks the same today.  This photo was featured in the “Winds of Change” magazine when I won the Executive Excellence Professional award 2012 from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (www.aises.org).

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All photos Linda Benson Kusumoto, used with permission

Thank you so much, Linda, for sharing your traditions and robes with us. For anyone wondering where to buy Pendleton wool by the yard, here are two sources.

Pendleton Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukie, Oregon: You can stop by the store and see all the fabric offerings and special cuts in person! Or, you can peruse fabrics on the store’s blog and order over the phone. The store does ship internationally.

Woolen Mill Store Blog: Shop Fabrics

Woolen  Mill Store Facebook (for store location, hours and phone number)

A wide selection of fabric is also available at the Pendleton website here: SHOP FABRIC