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Jennie Thlunaut Recordings Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

VHS and DVD recordings of In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut, 1988 and 2011.

Original and raw Umatic cassette recording of interview with Jennie Thlunaut, 4/14/1986.

Cassettes labeled “Jenny Thlunaut & Merrill Slides,” dated 1972-1974; VHS labeled “Jenny Thlunaut, Chilkat weavers,” undated, and two DVDs attributed to Thlunaut.

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Jennie Thlunaut Recordings Collection, 1972-2011 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Jennie Thlunaut Recordings Collection, 1972-2011Add to your cart.

ID: MC/048

Primary Creator: Sealaska Heritage Institute

Other Creators: Dauenhauer, Nora Marks (1927-)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Subjects: Tlingit art., Tlingit Indians--History.

Languages: Tlingit, English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains audio recordings concerning Tlingit weaver Jennie Thlunaut, some including the production of the Sealaska Heritage Institute film In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut, 1890-1896, first released in 1988.

In 1988 Sealaska released this film on VHS which discussed the life and works of Thlunaut, a renowned Tlingit Chilkat weaver who weaved over fifty robes and tunics and received numerous awards, including the Governor's Award for the Arts and the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship Award. In 1986 Nora Marks Dauenhauer and Suzanne Scollon recorded Thlunaut on home video, interviewing her about her life and work. This recording footage was eventually used to create the 1988 film. While his is not a professional production, it is on the contrary, a loving and personal homage to Thlunaut. In 2011 Sealaska reissued the film in DVD format.

This collection contains the original 1986 footage captured by Dauenhauer and Scollon (on Umatic cassettes) and copies of the 1988 film on VHS and DVD. It also contains other recordings of Thlunaut speaking about history and weaving, captured on VHS, DVD, and cassette. Additional recordings captured on cassette appear to contain Thlunaut looking at historic photographs and speaking about their content, recorded between 1972/74.

Researcher Note: SHI contains additional recordings of Thlunaut in other collections. Consult the archival catalog.

Biographical Note

The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is a regional Native non-profit organization founded for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. SHI was established in 1981 by Sealaska Corp., a for-profit company formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). SHI, formerly Sealaska Heritage Foundation, administers Sealaska Corp.'s cultural and educational programs.

SHI was conceived by Clan Leaders, Traditional Scholars and Elders at the first Sealaska Elders Conference in 1980. During that meeting, the Elders likened Native culture to a blanket. The late George Davis (Kichnáalx—Lk’aanaaw) of Angoon, spoke these memorable words: “We don’t want what you did here to only echo in the air, how our grandfathers used to do things…  Yes. You have unwrapped it for us.  That is why we will open again this container of wisdom left in our care.” These wise traditional leaders told the new leaders that their hands were growing weary of holding onto the metaphorical blanket, this "container of wisdom." They said they were transferring this responsibility to the Corporation. In response to this directive, Sealaska Corporation created its non-profit arm, Sealaska Heritage Institute, to administer cultural and educational programs for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

During its first decade of operation, under the leadership of David Katzeek, SHI began to administer its Scholarship Program from funds set aside by Sealaska Corporation for this purpose. The second major focus at that time was the documentation of oral traditions, a project led by Tlingit scholar Dr. Nora Marks Dauenhauer and her husband, Dr. Richard Dauenhauer. Over nearly a 20-year period, these efforts led to several major publications by the Institute of the Dauenhauer’s work, including:  “Because We Cherish You…” Sealaska Elders Speak to the Future, in 1981; Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors, Volume I of our Tlingit Oral Narratives (1987); Haa Tuwunáagu Yís: for Healing our Spirit. Vol. 2, Tlingit Oral Narratives. (1990); the Third Edition of Beginning Tlingit in 1991; Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories (1994); and Aan Aduspelled X’úx’, Tlingit Spelling Book in 1999. A number of these publications were co-published by the Institute and University of Washington Press. During this period, the Institute also created Naa Kahídi Theater, which won national acclaim for its dramatic presentation of Native legends.

One year after SHI was founded the Institute sponsored the first United Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Traditional Celebration, held in Juneau. Celebration '82 was so popular that our Board of Trustees decided the festival should become a biennial event. New dance groups began to form in response to Celebration, and every other year, the festival grew. Today, nearly every community in Southeast as well as Anchorage, the Seattle area, Hawaii and Canada, are represented by roughly two-thousand dancers in nearly fifty dance groups. During Celebration, workshops on various aspects of traditional culture and history also occur. Because SHI is the only major region-wide organization dedicated to cultural preservation, its Board of Trustees has mandated that Celebration be dedicated solely to honoring our traditional culture.

More recently, while continuing to honor the Institute's mission statement, “To perpetuate the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures,” the Trustees in 1997 adopted language restoration as the foremost priority of the Institute. Few funds were available initially for this objective, but the Institute launched an aggressive fund-raising campaign, and today, SHI sponsors and supports numerous language and culture programs across Southeast Alaska. The Institute also sponsors archival projects, historical research, and new publications. Since SHI’s founding, it has had four presidents; David Katzeek (1980-1991), Dennis Demmert (1992-1996), Ted Wright (1996-1998), and Rosita Worl (1998-present).

Subject/Index Terms

Tlingit art.
Tlingit Indians--History.

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Method: Materials concerning In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut in this collection were generated by SHI and then placed in SHI archives in 1988 and 2011. Items in Folder 3 were received by SHI prior to October 2007.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Folder:

[Folder 1: VHS and DVD recordings of In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut, 1988 and 2011.],
[Folder 2: Original and raw Umatic cassette recording of interview with Jennie Thlunaut, 4/14/1986.],
[Folder 3: Cassettes labeled “Jenny Thlunaut & Merrill Slides,” dated 1972-1974; VHS labeled “Jenny Thlunaut, Chilkat weavers,” undated, and two DVDs attributed to Thlunaut.],

Folder 1: VHS and DVD recordings of In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut, 1988 and 2011.Add to your cart.

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