Chilkat Weaving Part 2: the Atlin Music Festival

Teahonna James weaves under the white “artists” tent at the Atlin Music Festival July 12, 13, & 14, 2013

I thank Louise Gordon who invited us to come to Atlin; she asked us to set up our looms under one of their art demo/class tents.  I had heard of this festival since it’s inception over 20 years ago; I heard the excellent music by excellent musicians and the art and food, in a land of rare beauty.    We were fortunate to experience all these things.  I had wished I made my way to this heaven earlier.  Though now I have walked this land and breathed it’s air and soaked up its light, I have a bit of Atlin in me and I know I can and shall return.

Crystal and Vanessa weave on their child-size Chilkat robes demonstrating during the Atlin Music Festival 2013 in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

We have been in Whitehorse for almost  4 weeks; the first week we attended the Adaka Festival and we attended a Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving class was taught by Ann Smith and Clarissa Rizal.  Please visit the blog entry about the class (click here) and the Adaka Festival (click here).  At the Adaka opening ceremonial event, we created the “Weavers’ Dance” (click here) to honor the woven robes in both Ravenstail and Chilkat.

A better view of Vanessa weaving her child-size Chilkat robe

Find out more about the Atlin Music Festival in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada, please visit their website at:

Campers, camper vans, RVs of all sizes, from a variety of states and provinces, congregate in this big open field near downtown Atlin.

I have to admit, surprisingly I felt kind of out of place in Atlin.  Though it reminds me of old Juneau in ways and definitely familiar mountains, lakes, and trees, the place seems like an old Hippie-ville – a place where old hippies reside and where young hippies who are not quite retired go to visit and wish they could live there but cannot afford it because lack of “normal 9 to 5  income.  Does this mean that I don’t see myself as a hippie?  Yes.

I cannot say I’ve ever seen anything like this house except maybe the Egyptian Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Like where else are we gonna find a pyramid house? A hippie house.

A portion of the near-waterfront is designated for tent campers – of course there are young folk; some brought their dogs.

A lemonade stands on the hill above the lakeside performance tent catering to thirsty passer-byes in the warm weather.

Hawksley Workman (wearing the hat) performed several times during the Atlin Music Festival – he was my favorite act because the way I see it, he naturally moves from his heart and I could see this by the way he naturally stood with his chest “leading” out from his body as his voice reached up and out powerfully to the mountains and back.  Fun, superb performer.

In a dirt parking lot on the side of the road, I saw a crowd of about 20 huddled around a table – I stopped in my tracks and wondered what was going on.  One of my most favorite surprises was to run into Michelle Genest and her husband Hector.  I had first met Michelle not just a month prior on the ferry from Juneau to Skagway; she was intrigued with the Chilkat weaving.  She had introduced herself as a writer and cook; little did I know that she was a fantastic writer and just as well, cook!

Chef Extraordinaire and writer Michelle Genest flips a few more sourdough pancakes cooked with high-bush cranberries while festival goers taste her cuisine

Michelle served us up with these made-from-scratch high-bush cranberry pancakes topped with spruce tip syrup — absolutely fabulous first thing in the morning breathing fresh, crisp air.  Clean fresh air makes all the difference in the way food tastes; people don’t know this unless they experience clean fresh air like Atlin.

I bought her latest book “The Borealis Gourmet” Adventures in Northern Cooking featuring Yukon’s indigenous, flavorful boreal ingredients.  She and Hector were on their “tour” of Yukon wild-harvesting fruits, saps, herbs and veggies – setting up their elegant camp kitchen that they tuck back into their little silver sporty-looking Honda (or was it a Toyota?)

Notice my new red Bogs bought from Shoefly store in Juneau: the latest in technological footwear makes me feel like I am wearing a pair of very warm, waterproof moccasins – I bought them specifically for being outdoors on beaches collecting seaweed for garden mulch, or picking the nagoon berry fields, or running a wet, smooth firm beach, or jumping puddles!  Note:  I did not say that I would use them on cement in the city.

Two of my favorite books: “The Borealis Gourmet” by Michelle Genest and a great companion to this Northern cookbook, “The Borealis Herbal” – Wild food and medicinal plants of the North by Beverly Gray

For those of you who are harvesters of wild foods and herbs in Yukon and Alaska, and you like to cook, these are the two books for you!  Now that I am no longer tied down with the schedules of child-rearing with the school system time-frame, I can run around in the mountains, bogs, woods and the beach harvesting food!  It’s fabulous.  Being on the land and sea harvesting one’s food, getting fresh air and exercise is a very grounded spiritual existence.  It is what indigenous people always refer to as “our way of life.”