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Weaving Tales: Award Winning National Park Service Artist to Appear at Folklife Festival

Sitka National Historical Park

National Park News

Native Alaskan artist Teri Rofkar will demonstrate the traditional art of Tlingit Indian basket weaving at the 40th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. from June 30 to July 4, 2006.

Rofkar, who’s Tlingit name is Chas' Koowu Tla'a, has served as a National Park Service Artist-in-Residence at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center (SEAICC) in Sitka National Historical Park since 2000. She is a member of the T'ak dein taan (Raven) Clan of the Snail House. The Tlingit Indians have been in Southeast Alaska for 11,000 years.

Rofkar creates baskets using the ancient methods of harvesting and weaving spruce root passed down from her Elders. She uses her talent and engaging personality to introduce people to the Tlingit culture. A self-described “basket case”, Rofkar says, “I am always either weaving baskets or out in the forest gathering materials. Weavers must have an intimate connection with the land and a strong knowledge of plants, weather, place, and materials preparation.”

Rofkar will be one of 80 award winning American basket makers featured in the “Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions” section of the Folklife Festival. Each artist will demonstrate the weaving traditions of his or her respective community. Detailed information on the festival is available at

Rofkar is excited about the opportunity to participate in the festival. “I really enjoy sharing my weaving with others, especially park visitors. Weaving is a virtually unknown science in today’s world of purchased materials.”

Rofkar’s work has been featured in several museum exhibits. Her numerous awards include the Governor’s Award for Alaskan Native Arts in 2004. Visit for more information.

The NPS Artist-in-Residence program offers opportunities for artists of various mediums to live and work in national parks. Sitka National Historical Park and the SEAICC have partnered since 1969 to support the living cultures of Southeast Alaska. The park has provided studio space and financial support for SEAICC’s programs to demonstrate and teach the traditional arts and cultures of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.


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