Restrictions on the ivory industry are multiplying in the U.S., causing concern for artists in Alaska. Alaska Native carvers do have a degree of protection under federal law. But, non-Native carvers who only work with fossilized ivory are not shielded in the same way.
It is hoped that raising the Raven totem pole will pay respect to the grievances of the past, restore the T’aak̲u K̲wáan’s ancestral connection to the land, and signal their desire to heal and move forward, culture intact.
The somber ceremony is the beginning of the T’aak̲u K̲wáan tribal government’s plans to formally recognize historic trauma and begin healing. The 26-foot Raven Pole honors the Gaanaxteidí clan of the T’aak̲u K̲wáan, leaf of devil’s club that represents healing and a carved staff which represents the end of grieving.
Churchill has received an Alaska State Council on the Arts fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award for Haida basketry. She studied at the British Museum and relearned the six-strand weave, which she brought back to Alaska.