Delores Churchill is a Haida master weaver of baskets, hats, robes, and other regalia. Using such materials as spruce root, cedar bark, wool, and natural dyes, she creates utilitarian and ceremonial objects of unmatched beauty and cultural significance. Churchill learned these skills from her mother, Selina Peratrovich, at a time when there were just three active Alaskan Haida weavers. Peratrovich asked her daughter to burn her baskets for the first five years of the apprenticeship because "I am well known for my baskets. If you say you learned from me, you better be good."
Now, over thirty years later, Churchill is recognized around the world for her weaving skills. In 2002 she received the First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award for excellence in the arts. She continues to teach young people the knowledge and skills related to the weaving tradition, observing: "As long as Native art remains in museums, it will be thought of in the past tense." To speak to this point, she recently helped the people of Klukwan village replicate a 500-year-old spruce root hat found frozen in a glacier on the Yukon-Alaska border.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency