Learning From A Master: The Chilkoot Art Apprenticeship Program

This handout contains the slides from the September 9, 2022 Sharing Our Knowledge conference presentation by Helen Alten, Marsha Hotch and Gwen Sauser talking about the Chilkoot Art Apprentice program : Learning from a master handout

A recording of the presentation is here.


The goal of the Mentor/Apprentice Progam is to foster the growth of Native mentors and apprentices from the Traditional Arts fields in order to:

  • Transfer intergenerational cultural and/or traditional knowledge.
  • Perpetuate creative development and artistic rigor in the Traditional Arts fields.
  • Empower mentors and apprentices to play an integral role in the community.

The Mentorship is intended to:

  • Increase the emerging artist apprentice’s skill level in the apprentice’s chosen Traditional Arts practice through innovation, creativity, exploration, and mentor advisement.
  • Expand the intergenerational exchange of cultural and/or traditional knowledge and artistic skills.

Apprenticeships and Mentors

Apprentice Blogs

Two apprentices will be selected each year for the Apprentice/Mentor program. Apprentices will be selected from applicants to the program who

(a) show an interest for the art form based on family history, studies, readings, or some effort to create

(b) make a commitment to stay in the Chilkat Valley for at least 2 years,

(c) choose an art form that is under-represented in the Valley, and

(d) commit to completing a minimum of six months apprenticeship, documenting the apprenticeship with blog postings, and providing a workshop in Haines upon their return from the apprenticeship.

The apprentice’s final products will be exhibited for the community to see how the Cultural Program is building our Native resources. Apprentices will work with the Cultural Program staff to identify mentors with whom they might wish to work. The mentors will be asked to sign a contract committing to a minimum of six months with the apprentice and 520 hours of in person time either training or working alongside the apprentice. Each mentor will submit a short monthly report and a final evaluation of the apprentice. The Cultural Program staff will work with the apprentice/mentor pair to outline the specifics of how their collaboration will work to the satisfaction of all parties, fulfilling the six month requirement. Before submitting our cultural program grant we received commitments from potential mentors Nathan Jackson (Totem Carver), Dorica Jackson (Chilkat Weaver), Lily Hope (Chilkat Weaver) and Jenny Lyn Smith (Silver Carver). Given that we do not know exactly which art form apprentices might choose, once the apprentices for each year have been confirmed, we will seek additional mentors. We have a list of possible master beaders, basket weavers, wood workers, silver workers and blanket weavers. Over the next three years, apprentices will participate in small business workshops and other support services from the Cultural Department staff, who will assist in making their art business viable.



Certified Tribal Artist Program of Central Council Tlingit and Haida is a resource for Native artists.