Respected Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal dies at 60

Della Cheney, left, and Clarissa Rizal work on braiding the side borders for the Weavers Across Waters Chilkat/Ravenstail community robe on Monday, August 22, 2016, at the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Juneau. One of three of Rizal's daughters, Lily Hope watches the weavers work on the robe, which will be part of the Huna Tribal House opening celebration. Hope is also an accomplished weaver, actress and storyteller. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

Della Cheney, left, and Clarissa Rizal work on braiding the side borders for the Weavers Across Waters Chilkat/Ravenstail community robe on Aug. 22, 2016, at the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau. Lily Hope, one of Rizal’s three daughters, watches the weavers work on the robe, which was part of the Huna Tribal House opening celebration. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

“The world has lost another luminary.”

That’s how the Sealaska Heritage Institute began a message announcing the death of Clarissa Rizal at age 60, a renowned Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver. She was a Raven of the T’akdeintaan Clan, also known as the black-legged Kittywake Clan.

The institute’s announcement says Native people owe her a debt for teaching and reviving the sacred art.


Rizal was diagnosed with terminal liver and colon cancer in October and passed in the early hours this morning. Her sudden death comes as a shock to many.

In addition to weaving, Rizal was a multimedia artist who worked with paint, music, spoken word, printmaking and sculpture. Among her works in recent years was a collaboration with the Seattle-based band Khu.éex’. You can hear Rizal perform in “To Her Grandmother” by clicking below.

Among other awards, Rizal was a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. You can watch her presentation at the Fellowships Concert below.

She leaves behind children Kahlil and his wife Mikiko along with their daughter Violet; Lily Hope and husband Ishmael, and their children Elizabeth, Louis, Mary and Ella; Ursala Hudson and husband Chris Haas and their daughters Amelie and Simone. She is also survived by her siblings Richard, Tim, Irene and Deanna.

A celebration of life in Juneau will take place in the summer of 2017.

Recent headlines

  • dollar bill money macro

    Per diems driving special session costs

    Lawmakers who represent areas outside Juneau receive $295 for each day of the special session. Juneau lawmakers receive $221.25 per day.
  • Caroline Hoover proudly pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on the front of her father's parka during an official discharge ceremony held Oct. 17 in Kipnuk, Alaska. David Martin is one of three surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard's Kipnuk unit. A total of 59 residents of Kipnuk, who volunteered to defend Alaska in the event of a Japanese invasion during World War II, were recognized during the ceremony. Kipnuk residents who served with the Alaska Territorial Guard from 1942-1947 were members of a U.S. Army component organized in response to attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Jerry Walton, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs cultural resource manager and native liaison/public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

    16 Alaska Territorial Guard vets to be honored in Anchorage

    Sixteen veterans of the Alaska Territorial Guard will be honored at a discharge ceremony today. Four of them are from Western Alaska.
  • Don Andrew Roguska looks out from an upstairs window of an historic Juneau house he bought in 2016 to restore. Zoning regulations have prevented him from rebuilding in the same style. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

    Juneau mulls relaxing zoning rules for historic houses

    The historic houses in Juneau and Douglas were predominately built by miners and fishermen long before today's zoning was put into place. That's prevented homeowners from restoring or rebuilding homes in these neighborhoods without running into conflict with the city's zoning laws -- a temporary fix may be on the way.
  • Young joins Afghanistan war skeptics in Congress

    Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to know why Americans are still fighting in Afghanistan. He has co-sponsored a bill that would end funding for the war in a year, unless the president and Congress affirm the need for it.
X