49 Voices: Lani Hotch of Klukwan

Lani Hotch of Klukwan (Photo by Daysha Eaton)

This week we’re hearing from Lani Hotch in Klukwan. Hotch is a traditional Chilkat weaver who was born in Klukwan, and traveled the country before returning home.

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HOTCH: You have to love it to live here, because I know a lot of people can’t make it through the winter. You know, because we have long, dark, cold winters, and some people have that hard to bear. But I… that’s when I get to focus on my artwork, so I enjoy that time, down time. I’m very much an introvert, so it doesn’t bother me so much.

Well, I’m a textile artist. Weaving is my main thing, but I also do skin sewing and felt applique, just a little bit of bead work, but not a whole lot. Chilkat weaving, which didn’t originate with our people here in Klukwan, but once our people learned it, then they became very good at it and very prolific. So the art form became known as Chilkat blankets for that reason. And we have quite a legacy of weaving here in Klukwan, and I’m doing my best to carry that forward.

Yeah, I’ve been weaving pretty steadily since 1990. And then I was involved in a few group projects. We started that Klukwan healing robe, and it took us eight years to weave it. And there were a dozen women who started out, but there were only four of us who carried it to completion, and I was one of them. So, I learned over that eight-year period. I wouldn’t say I mastered it, but I learned enough to do another robe on my own, and one robe let to the next, to the next, to the next.

I decided I needed to take on an apprentice and them them every step of the way. What really triggered that too was at the end of 2016 in December, we lost two weavers in Southeast Alaska: Clarissa Rizal and Terry Rofkar. And it’s odd that they died within a week of each other in December. But, when those women died, and they were my age, I thought, “I better get on it, because I don’t know how many days I got left.”


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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

a portrait of a man outside

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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