Photo Gallery

From sketchings on cave walls, to stretched animal skins, to wood pulp, to the digital camera – a picture has always been worth 1,000 words.  Well, in Southeast Alaska’s tundra and taiga, a picture is worth 10,000 words. And as you look into a warm set of Tlingit eyes, it’s worth even more!

The Land

Angoon makes up part of Southeast Alaska’s , “Inside Passage,” a series of islands surrounded by mountains and icy-deep fjords and bays. Located in Prince Admiralty Island’s, Tongass National Forest, the village of Angoon remains the ONLY city in the entire United States that’s located on a national monument. With eagles and ravens filling the skies, the dichotomy is arresting: pristine land, yet poor village. But nonetheless, a people rich in so many ways. And when a Tlingit from Angoon is asked if they ever get bored with gazing at the snow-capped mountain, killer whales, and sunsets, they just smile and say “never.”

The People

Of the three major tribes in Southeast Alaska—Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian—the Tlingits remain the largest, numbering at over 14,000. The word, “Tlingit,” means “man” or “human,” originally used by a Tlingit to differentiate between a man or an animal approaching in the distance. Feared by early Russian fur traders and loved by their own, the Tlingits are courageous, creative, and have a tremendous sense of pride in who they are. And should they sense your sincerity and invite you “in”—you will immediately find them to be some of the most affectionate and fun-loving people.

The Culture

The Tlingit tribe is divided into two groups, or “moieties:” the raven moiety and eagle moiety. You are born into your moiety, which is always determined by your motherʼs moiety (matrilineal society). To understand the eagle and raven moiety is the beginning of understanding much of the Tlingits rich culture—from totem poles displaying family lineage (as a family crest would in another culture), to the ceremonial feasts, to the various art forms. And the earliest explorers of the eighteenth century wondered, who were these people who carved their canoes with the same quality that Europeans carved their statues?

The Tlingit Life

Life in Angoon is a life of honoring the way the “old timers” once lived. And chief among this way, is “subsistence living,” or simply stated, “living off the land.” Not just for food, but for clothing and the materials for arts and crafts, and even fuel. With very little body fat, but tremendous strength, the average Tlingit loves nothing more than hunting and fishing, and then sharing all that theyʼve hunted and caught.

The Farmer’s Market

The village of Angoon is so excited about excited about community revitalization and Angoon Alive Project, that they have offered a building built to house local artifacts but never used, for us to use as the Farmer’s market. The building is approximately 2,000 square feet, and provides just the right amount of space. Photos of interior and renovation plans will be available soon.

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To commission a piece from Jamie or
otherwise inquire about him:
Please contact him directly by email at
taatxaanii@yahoo.com or through the
Angoon Business Center at
(907) 788 - 355

For Jamie Daniels, carving is more than a skill, or even an art. It is a process of connection - to his family, his teachers, his future, and to the culture of his community. Raised in Angoon, Alaska, Jamie's Tlingit name is Taat Xaa Nii (Night Madness). He is Raven-Beaver, a child of the Eagle-Shark clan, a grandchild of the Killer Whale clan, and a great grandchild of the Eagle-Bear clan. He is the son of his father, G´eek, and his mother, Shteiwooteen. He is also at the front of an effort to revitalize traditional carving in the Tlingit native village of Angoon, a place where culture and modernity often compliment each other, and just as often appear to clash.

Jamie carves elaborate Tlingit totemic crests out of wood, into skillfully crafted paddles, plates, rattles, and dishes. He carves in the “Angoon style”, in which eagle and raven designs can be mixed, and different crests influence each other greatly. Accordingly, Jamie tries to represent and acknowledge different people and clans from the Angoon area in his work, and he never uses the same design twice. “In the old days it was an insult,” he says, “you would never present the same design more than once - the guy you were giving it to would get mad.” It´s for this reason that Jamie does not draw his designs out ahead of time or use templates. He sketches his designs directly onto the wood, determining the shape and form as he goes, to come up with a pattern that is both unique and representative of stories.

Jamie´s artistic creativity and interest began when he was a young child. He says he has always enjoyed drawing, and in his youth he would render the particular beauty of Southeast Alaska, all the while imagining what the landscape used to look like in “the old days”. In fact, “the old days” is a common theme in Jamie´s life and in his work. A modern man leading a modern life, tradition and history are still strongly incorporated into Jamie´s everyday existence, and his carving is the ultimate expression of that culture and tradition.

The practice of traditional carving is long and elaborate; much more than simply sitting down with a piece of wood and a tool. The process usually begins with the task of properly selecting and then harvesting the fragrant spruce wood that Jamie, as well as many other carvers from the region, regularly use as their main material. The wood is highly available in the Angoon area, and known for being both light and hard - a perfect medium for traditional art like Jamie´s. Cedar, and other types of wood, are less prevalent in Angoon, and though Jamie may use them on occasion, the majority of his work is constructed with Spruce. The harvesting of the wood is often a significant community event, accomplished in large groups, and in the past has been a highly ceremonial affair.

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