Project: Re-emerging Culture in Wrangell II
Grantee: Alaska Native Sisterhood
Story by: Tis Peterman

ANSA co-sponsored a two-day paddle making class with the One Canoe Society and Sealaska Heritage Institute in Wrangell. The local school district provided their wood shop classroom as in-kind. The students shaped their paddles and then created their own designs that were then painted. ANSA also held two separate ravenstail weaving classes with renowned artist Kathryn Rousso. The classes were the first ravenstail classes held in Wrangell since the 1990s, which generated a lot of excitement. Both classes were well attended and created enthusiasm for future projects.

The first class was for beginners and the students created bags using materials provided by a weaver in Juneau. The second class was for both beginners and students who took the first class. The students created leggings to be used in Native dancing. The ravenstail weaving classes only had one student who had previously participated in this type of weaving, but that was over 20 years ago. The others were novices but had some type of weaving experience. Three of the students continued on their own in between the classes to hone their skills for the next class. These three women are planning to weave a ravenstail robe to be brought out in celebration in Juneau, 2020!

Some of the fifteen students in the paddle making class had never taken classes in this type of art form and they thoroughly enjoyed it. The students learned to take cedar boards that were provided by Sealaska Corporation and shape them into paddles using equipment provided by the local high school, The paddles were then sanded by hand and painted using their own designs. One student was the owner of a local bed and breakfast and said the paddle would be placed in a prominent place in her business. Her original design was of a hummingbird and measured approximately 5 feet long.