Helen Watkins “Walked Into the Woods”

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Subsistence gatherer Helen Watkins’ – the photos to her right are her relatives including her mother, grandmother and an image of the cabin off of Mud Bay Road in Haines, Alaska where she would spend the Summers gathering the abundant variety of indigenous foods — April 2011

Almost a year ago, I began weaving a Chilkat robe for Tlingit elder Helen Watkins from the Shungukeidi Thunderbird Clan; the robe is called “Egyptian Thunderbird.”  She was going to dance the robe this coming June during opening ceremonies of the biennial gathering of clans in Juneau called “Celebration.”  Looks like she will be dancing the robe in spirit; Helen “walked into the woods” last night.

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The “Egyptian Thunderbird” Chilkat robe by Clarissa Rizal (June 2016) commissioned by Susan Hunter-Joerns in honor of Helen Watkins — modeled by Helen Watkin’s niece, Rhonda Mann

Helen was the happiest when she gathered foods from the land and sea with her big family and friends.  Back in 2011, I attended one of her presentations on the Native subsistence foods and posted a blog about it.  Check it out at:  http://www.clarissarizal.com/blogblog/subsistence-presentation-by-helen-watkins/

Her obituary is at:  http://www.legacyalaska.com/obituaries/Helen-Abbott-Watkins/#!/Obituary

You’ve got a lot of family, relatives and friends who are going to miss you greatly, dear Helen!

 

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