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THLUNAUT, Jennie

Born
Chilkat Territory, Southeast Alaska, ca 1890
Died
Klukwan, Alaska, 1986
Biography synopsis
Jennie Thlunaut, born Shax'saani Kéek ('Younger Sister of the Girls'), was a First Nations Northwest Coast weaver who was a member of the Tlingit tribe. After the death of her first husband, she remarried John Mark Thlunaut in 1922. One of the last Chilkat weavers, Thlunaut became famous for her detailed robes and blankets which she learned to create from her mother. Chilkat blanket weaving was traditionally made from dyed goats' wool. Thlunaut's blankets were decorated with animal crests, which were symbolic of tribal affiliations and worn during ceremonies. She also practiced beadwork and spruce root basket making. In 1985, the Canada Council for the Arts sent a delegation of First Nations weavers to study under Thlunaut and master the art of Chilkat weaving, an art form which was being lost. The group later became known as the Shax'saani Kéek Weavers and were assembled by the Canada Council's Aboriginal Peoples' Collaborative Exchange program in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. For her lifetime of artistic achievements and her contribution to Chilkat culture, Thlunaut was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 1986. Her work has been featured in museums across Canada and the United States.
Media used
Basket making
Embroidery
Textiles
File & Archive locations
Library and Archives Canada, ON - Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana
Alaska State Library
Smithsonian Institution, DC - National Anthropological Archives
University of Alaska - Fairbanks Library
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Writings about
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K-12 Visual Arts Curriculum: Juneau School District. (Sept. 2005).
Brown, Steven C. Native Visions: Evolution in Northwest Coast Art from the Eighteenth Through the Twentieth Century. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998.
Busby, Sharon. Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit. Seattle: Marquand Books, 2003.
Chandonnet, Ann. "Preserving the Tlingit 'Fringe About the Body'." Juneau Empire (21 Apr. 2004)
http://juneauempire.com/stories/042104/nei_fringe.shtml.
Dauenhauer, Nora. The Droning Shaman: Poems. Hains, Alaska: Black Current Press, 1988.
Dauenhauer, Nora & Richard. Haa Kusteeyi, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Dauenhauer, Nora & Richard. Haa Tuwunaagu Yis, For Healing Our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990.
Dunham, Mike. "Blanket Maker Expands Traditional Art Form." Bay Area News Group (25 Jul. 2009): E7.
Everett, Deborah & Zorn, Elayne. Encyclopedia of Native American Artists. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2008.
Fienup-Riordan, Ann et al. The Artists Behind the Work: Life Histories of Nick Charles, Sr., Frances Dementieff, Lena Sours, Jennie Thlunaut. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Museum, 1986.
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Schneider, William. ... So They Understand: Cultural Issues in Oral History. Utah State University Press, 2002.
Scollon, Suzanne. In Memory of Jennie Thlunaut, 1890-1996. Juneau, Alaska: Sealaska Heritage Foundation, 1988.
Seattle Art Museum. The Spirit Within. Seattle: Rizzoli, 1995.
Sheldon Jackson Museum. "March Artifact of the Month: Tlingit Spruce Root Basket." Alaska State Museums (25 Feb. 2008)
http://www.museums.state.ak.us/documents/sjm/artifacts/march_2008.pdf.
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Worl, Rosita et al. Celebration: Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian Dancing on the Land. Sealaska Heritage Institute, 2008.

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