Chilkat weaver Anna Brown Ehlers recognized for her contribution to her community and culture
JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Anna Brown Ehlers was born and raised in Juneau, and both of her parents are from Klukwan, Alaska, in the heart of the Chilkat Valley.
From a very young age, she was intrigued with Chilkat weaving. Ehlers said she was four years old the first time she saw a Chilkat blanket worn by her uncle Roy and from that moment wanted to make Chilkat blankets.
Determined to master how to make one, she started learning from other Chilkat blanket weavers, including one of the most celebrated Chilkat weavers in recent memory.
“I ended up working with Jennie Thlunaut, who was 92 at the time, and she was best friends with my dad’s brother,” Ehlers said. “So I saw her weaving when I was a child, she would stay at my grandmother’s house when she came down to Juneau so I was always intrigued with it.”
Chilkat weaving is a traditional ancient art form indigenous to the Native people of Southeast Alaska. One of the most complex weaving styles, it requires mountain goat wool and yellow cedar bark, which is collected in the springtime.
“It takes about four to five months to prepare the yellow cedar bark and spin it with a mountain goat wool, and then about a year to weave the blanket,” Ehlers said.
She’s spent more than 30 years perfecting her craft, taught hundreds of people the art of Chilkat weaving, and received numerous awards; one being in May 2023 when she was recognized by the University of Southeast with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
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