Thursday, November 19, 2009

The End

To round out the end of my blog I decided to show you all a video of a Tlingit carver, Master Tlingit Carver Keith Wolfe-Smarch. Wolfe-Smarch has been carving for about 15 years now and has carvings all over the world. He is from Shakoon (Tlingit name) or Teslin which is a very small village approxiamately 64 miles south of Whitehorse and has about 450 people. Carving has always been his passion, all of his artwork is worn or used in dances and ceremonies. Well now that I have told you enough about him I'm going to let you watch a video that showcases his artwork and has him talking about carving. Sorry once again I don't know how to put a video on blogger, so if you click the link below it will take you to youtube where you can enjoy his artwork.

Here are my resources:

Language of the Tlingit People

Unlike the English alphabet of 26 letters, the Tlingit people have 32 consonants and eight vowels. The Tlingit alphabet is very similar to the shapes of our English alphabet but there are a couple of differences; the letters have underlines on them and apostrophes to distinguish particular sounds. e.g. yéil means Raven while yéil' means elderberry. (notice the second word has an apostrophe after the L.) Researchers found that Tlingit language has 24 sounds that are not related to English sounds. The language is phenomic meaning different tones mean different words. The words in Tlingit have been compared to German because of the gutteral noises that are made. This language is special because it is unlike all of the other languages spoken in Alaska because the noises made are not from that back of throat but from the gut. Many of the consonants have no English equivalents. There are so many different languages spoken in Alaska, it would be something special if I were to learn at least one of them. It sounds like Tlingit would be difficult to learn because of all of the different tones used and how they talk from their gut.

Retrieved on November 18, 2009 from:

What does Tlingit mean??

The word Tlingit means "human being." The word was used to show the difference of animals and human beings, because in the Tlingit culture animals and humans are very alike. Tlingit eventually became its national name. Some speculate that Tlingits have been around for about 11,000 years. The Haida people who are very close to the Tlingits have only been around for 200 years and the Tsimshian indians came from Canada's interior mainland.
Emmons, George Thornton. The Tlingit Indians. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. Retrieved from on November 18, 2009.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tlingit Food

The food that Tlingit people ate was usually seasonal. In the spring time the eulachon (also known as hooligans) were caught, rendered to an oil and then congealed into a grease which was a highly-desired condiment eatin with dried salmon or herring eggs. In the fall moose and mountain goat were hunted. On the islands marine resources are the most important because all they have around them is water. The islanders would take herring and bird eggs, then seaweed and halibut. Sometimes seals were hunted on the rookeries and in the fall deer were hunted. During summer the women in the village would go out and pick and berries and greens.

Langdon, S. (2002). The native people of Alaska. Anchorage: Edward Bovy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tlingit Dance

For the Tlingit people dance was a way of showing emotion, whether it would be a story, an apology or for shamans talking to spirits. Dancing is the most important part of a potlach because dancing is like a universal language, everybody knows what it is. Although some of us try to dance were not too good at it and thats why we keep the dancing to the dancers. In this case the dancers are the Tlingits.

Billman, E. (1975). Sheldon museum and cultural center. Retrieved November 17, 2009 from

Monday, November 16, 2009

Her last blanket

After my last post I was inspired to learn more about Jenny and her blankets. When you google "chilkat blanket" under images you will see this picture. I thought it was just another model and chilkat blanket but come to find out that this is Jenny's last blanket woven and the model is her daughter, Agnes Bellinger. Coincidence?

Jenny Thlunaut

Jenny Thlunaut was born in Haines, Alaska, May 18, 1891. She like all of the young Tlingit children enjoyed playing on the beach, picking berries and picking celery. Jenny would travel with the community and go fishing and hunting. When Jenny was ten, she was given her first box of mountain goat wool and began to learn how to weave. Throughout her life she was credited for single handedly keeping the the tradition alive during the lack of interest of Alaska native art. Near the end of her life she put her blankets up on the market for $10,000 - $16,000, even though she was selling these blankets she still gave some of them away. Jenny never kept a blanket for herself. "I don't want to be stingy with this," she said. "I am giving it to you, and you will carry it on"