A Journey to What Matters- Hoonah City Schools Dancing with Our Ancestors Project

Project: Hoonah City Schools Dancing with our Ancestors
Grantee: Hoonah City Schools
Story and photos from: Heather Powell

During the Dancing with our Ancestors project students were blessed with the opportunity to connect with their culture in ways that included several different art forms, like drum making with North West Coast Form line by renowned artist Kaax’T’seen Herb Sheakley Jr.  In addition to creating beautiful drums, they also carved in copper tináa’s- copper shields of great value to our people.  Students and community members also participated in a nearly 2 week Regalia Making workshop, that included master artists Shgen Dootaan George, Ravenstail and Chilkat Weavers, and Lingít language and cultural teacher Heather Powell, as well as master regalia maker Carol Williams, daughter of Smithsonian Artist David Williams.

Students ages 3 and up participated at average different levels. Our younger artist creates beaded headbands with Aunty Carol, as our older artists worked in sessions to complete Ravenstail bags and headbands and our oldest group- Middle/High School students worked on creating Dancing Robes, adorned with felt designs and buttons to represent their specific family crests.
Students and family, as well as community members were invited to dessert and an Art Walk- sharing their art with the community- over 60 students participated in our cultural art programming, and over 100 community members attended this wonderful event.

In addition to the art week, we hosted a week of culture camp and worked on processing traditional foods, traditional arts, and traditional language, songs and dance with our elders, families and children.  This project took place in the summer of 2019.