Anna Beaver’s ashes in a box covered by a cloth embellished with a small beaded “T’naa” by Anna when she was a child

The first time I met Anna Beaver was during a portrait documentary project that her daughter Donna Beaver Pizzarelli and I were photographing during Celebration 2004 in Juneau.  A gracious, generous, thoughtful woman who not only brought us food during our crazy three days of photographing dancers in their regalia all the while we forgetting to eat, but also she beadworked name tags for the four of us who were collaborating together on this project:  Liana Wallace Young, Rhonda Mann, Donna and myself.  Since then, I hadn’t seen her much except now and then when we would run into one another at an art fair selling our wares.

Beadwork and doll-maker, Anna Beaver – photo by Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

Hand-made dolls by Anna Beaver – photo by Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

Clarissa, Anna Beaver and Rhonda – Auke Bay 2005 – photo by Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

We took a small catamaran to the back side of Douglas Island, a place called “Hilda Creek” where Anna and her family would harvest foods from the land and sea

The last time I saw Anna Beaver was just three weeks before she passed away on Sunday, July 14th.   Rhonda and I had heard she was not doing well and I was scheduled to jump a ferry to Skagway to head up to Whitehorse the next day so we thought we better get a visit in.  Rhonda, Donna and Donna’s sister, Delores Weathers and I sat around for at least two hours at Anna’s bedside telling young women dumb stories gossiping about ourselves…we shared, teased and we laughed until we cried.  Anna could hardly get a word in edgewise, though she was very happy.

family members and relatives gathered inside

Anna seemed like she could go either way; she could get better or she could be “letting go.”  This time she “let go.”  Upon hearing her passing, I was in my room in Whitehorse preparing to teach a few more tricks-of-the-trade to my students; I had to sit still and gaze out the window.  In one day two of my friends’ mothers passed away this same day just within four hours of one another.   All time stood still for those moments as I remembered too my own mother, Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe.  Our mothers are special people. We miss our mothers.  Till the day we pass, not a day goes by without thinking of them and every now and then we can “feel” their presence.  It’s a fine day.

Anna Beaver’s children L to R: Delores, Debbie, Darlene, Donna and Darren

Click here to read Anna Beaver’s obituary in the Juneau Empire .  Anna was the daughter of Amos Wallace, T’akDeinTaan Clan originally from Hoonah, Alaska who was a famous totem pole carver and silversmith (amongst many other talents).  Click here to read Amos’ obituary in the Juneau Empire

Rhonda, Clarissa and Donna

Tom Jimmie, Jr. sang a Kaagwaantaan song

Anna’s sister holds a bouquet of a dozen white roses

A plate of some of Anna’s favorite foods were “sent” with her ashes – this is a tradition of many tribes throughout Southeast Alaska – we believe we keep alive the spirit of the departed one by “feeding” them.  We want to let them know we will remember them.  They “assist” us from their place as we acknowledge and continue to appreciate  them from here.

Hilda Creek in the background, Anna’s ashes, bouquets, food and lost of love were spread into the ocean

White roses accompany the ashes of Anna Beaver – photo by Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

Appropriately, the opposite clan the T’akDeinTaan, Anna’s father’s clan song was sung by Irene Jean Lampe accompanied by Tom Jimmie (T.J.), Jr.

Donna Beaver Pizzarelli’s (yellow pants) and friends, Rhonda Mann (blue pants) and Clarissa Rizal (red jacket)

Donna and her husband, Al Pizzarelli