Cultural Apprenticeship Blogs

Four Apprentices were selected in 2022 by the Cultural Committee to learn from three Master Artisans. Apprentices record their learning progress in these blogs for our community to join them in their journey.

Gwen Sauser Learns Chilkat Weaving From Marsha Hotch

My sister Cara and I are looking forward to this journey we are embarking on.  The journey so far has been unexpected, soul-searching, and filled with hope.  Chilkat weaving whispers and beckons to the core of who we are, individually and collectively as a People.

 I, myself, am a total beginner to weaving.  Chilkat weaving has been a huge part of my family for as far back as I can remember.  My father David Land used to help collect the goat wool, my grandma Edna would help prepare it, and my great-grandma Jennie Thlunaut wove the beautiful robes that I would often look at and admire.

I am looking forward to learning alongside with my sister Cara Gilbert, as we learn from Marsha Hotch.  With Marsha we will receive an immersive experience: we will learn to weave, language connections, handle and process goat wool, create Chilkat warp, dye weft, integrate clan stories, and go on a museum trip where we will learn to study and examine the robes.

Rob Martin Learns Silverworking From Greg Horner

Rob Martin learned engraving under Gregg Horner in 2009-2012. In 2017 Rob invested in himself and created an engraving shop in his garage. Rob’s work emphasizes quality over quantity. Rob is an emerging silver engraver who wants to expand his skills and knowledge. He will learn how to make rings, inlay stones and gems, do chasing and repousse, and how to inlay and solder different metals.

Cara Gilbert Learns Chilkat Weaving From Marsha Hotch

Turning Points

I can still remember the last time that I saw my Great-Grandmother. I was 7 years old. I can remember being in the car, and looking out the window, I can remember the trees just being littered with eagles as we drove from Haines to Klukwan. I can remember walking into her home and smelling hooligan oil as she was cooking boiled fish and the smell of smoked moose leather. I remember her hands outstretched to me because she wanted a hug. I will always remember her hands as they were weavers’ hands. I remember her eyes as they were filled with love. The love a Great-Grandmother has for a grandchild. It didn’t matter to her that the color of my skin was white, or that I had blond hair or blue eyes. She loved me because I was her granddaughter, and she was my great-grandmother.

In October, my family lost my father. My father’s passing was a turning point in my life. Due to his passing, I went home in December to Haines. During that time Gwen and I had a beading night with our Aunt Vivian, my mom, my sister Karissa and family friend Marsha Hotch. Marsha brought Mountain Goat wool and merino wool with her. Marsha was testing the waters, seeing if Gwen and I were interested in learning how to Chilkat Weave. She was planting a seed. Due to these two pivot points, my father’s passing and Marsha planting a seed, my husband and I are selling our home, leaving the life we have built in Juneau, and we are moving home to the Chilkat Valley.

I have always wanted to weave. (I have taken several Ravenstail classes taught by Kay Parker but no Chilkat Weaving classes.) I’ve always had dreams of blankets and weaving but I never thought that I would have an opportunity to learn Chilkat Weaving. I thought those skills passed with my Great-Grandmother.

Through this whole process it has been like my Great-Grandmother and Father have been here, right beside us, cheering Gwen and I on. We both feel very honored and humbled that the Chilkoot Indian Association has chosen us to be a part of this mentorship. Gunalchéesh – Cara Gilbert, Kintoow

Karen Taug Learns Chilkat Weaving From Lily Hope

Karen Taug started learning Chilkat weaving in 1984 with Anna Brown Ehlers.  She took a break to raise a family, restarting in 2010 with Clarissa Rizzal, Lily Hope’s mother. Since 2016 she has been committed full-time to weaving. She has primarily been weaving in Ravenstail. She would like to improve her weaving and master Chilkat weaving techniques.  Chilkat weaving is harder than Ravenstail. She will learn  how to start a dancing blanket, execute design from pattern templates, measure the warp, warp the loom, interlock bordere colors, Jennie Thlunaut’s fastest finger twining technique, braid techniques, making a perfect circle, overlay fringes and other skills.