TLINGIT WEAVER SHAXʼSAANI KÉEKʼ (JENNIE THLUNAUT) DIED
Born on May 18, either 1891 or 1892, in the Chilkat Territory, in southeast Alaska, Jennie, whose Tlingit name meant “Younger Sister of the Girls,” was 10 when she received her first batch of mountain goat hair and her mother taught her weaving. In 1908, Jennie finished a Chilkat blanket that her mother had started before she died. She made her own first blanket in 1910 and became a prolific weaver, making over 50 blankets and 25 tunics in her 70-year career. In so doing, Jennie kept alive a traditional art form at a time when such arts nearly died out. The Smithsonian Institution chose her to demonstrate weaving in their Festival of American Folklife in 1984. In 1986, Jennie was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. In 1988, Sealaska Heritage Foundation produced a documentary about her life and work. Her work was featured in many exhibitions, including “Tlingit Aanee” at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Jennie died while flying home to Klukwan, Alaska.
Sources: Rosita Worl and Charles Smythe, “Jennie Thlunaut,” from “The Artists Behind the Work,” (Fairbanks: The University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks, 1986), Clarissa Rizal. Retrieved 6/30/2019, http://clarissarizal.com/tributes/jennie-thlunaut-biography-by-rosita-worl/ "Jenny Thlunaut, Tlingit Chilkat Blanket Weaver," NEA National Heritage Fellowships. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 6/30/2019, https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/jennie-thlunaut Photo: National Endowment for the Arts, 1986. Public Domain.