Village dedicates 2 totems for women


About 100 residents and visitors turned out for the dedication of two 10-foot totems Saturday at Klukwan’s ANS Hall.

Lani Hotch, executive director of the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center, told the crowd that the totems, which depict women figures, balance warrior totems located across the street at a veterans’ memorial. “For the Tlingit, everything needs to be in balance.”

One of the new totems shows a woman holding a basketful of berries, wearing a Chilkat blanket and woven hat with a child at her knee. The other is a depiction of an ANS member, holding a bible, also with a child.

Hard work and good judgment are the hallmarks of women who have contributed to Tlingit life, Hotch said, citing generations of women who helped preserve the culture and keep the village running. “We have a good life but it’s not easy. It requires hard work.”

Other speakers included ANS Grand President Freda Westman, who listed accomplishments of the regional organization fighting for Native rights, including on issues ranging from subsistence to hiring Natives as teachers in public schools. “We need Alaska Native people to continue the work that the (ANS) founders started,” she said.

Klukwan ANS president Elsie Spud spoke about the small but important duties done by volunteers at village functions such as Christmas and the Fourth of July celebrations.

“There’s a part for everyone and we could use everyone’s help,” Spud said. “The Klukwan ANS will be here forever.”

Spud called the totems a sign of what was accomplished in the past and a symbol of the work that would continue in the future.

Other speakers included Ed Warren, Kimberley Strong, Joe Hotch and Smith Katzeek.


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