This week we’re hearing from Lani Hotch in Klukwan. Hotch is a traditional Chilkat weaver who was born in Klukwan, and traveled the country before returning home.
HOTCH: You have to love it to live here, because I know a lot of people can’t make it through the winter. You know, because we have long, dark, cold winters, and some people have that hard to bear. But I… that’s when I get to focus on my artwork, so I enjoy that time, down time. I’m very much an introvert, so it doesn’t bother me so much.
Well, I’m a textile artist. Weaving is my main thing, but I also do skin sewing and felt applique, just a little bit of bead work, but not a whole lot. Chilkat weaving, which didn’t originate with our people here in Klukwan, but once our people learned it, then they became very good at it and very prolific. So the art form became known as Chilkat blankets for that reason. And we have quite a legacy of weaving here in Klukwan, and I’m doing my best to carry that forward.
Yeah, I’ve been weaving pretty steadily since 1990. And then I was involved in a few group projects. We started that Klukwan healing robe, and it took us eight years to weave it. And there were a dozen women who started out, but there were only four of us who carried it to completion, and I was one of them. So, I learned over that eight-year period. I wouldn’t say I mastered it, but I learned enough to do another robe on my own, and one robe let to the next, to the next, to the next.
I decided I needed to take on an apprentice and them them every step of the way. What really triggered that too was at the end of 2016 in December, we lost two weavers in Southeast Alaska: Clarissa Rizal and Terry Rofkar. And it’s odd that they died within a week of each other in December. But, when those women died, and they were my age, I thought, “I better get on it, because I don’t know how many days I got left.”