Hoonah, Alaska Vietnam Vets Documentary


Samantha Farinella prepares to address the first Juneau audience to her documentary at the Old Town Nicolodean Theatre

“Hunting in Wartime” was shown at the Gold Town Nickelodean Theatre in Juneau last weekend.  The documentary profiles the extraordinary stories of Tlingit Vietnam War veterans from Hoonah, Alaska. The film traces the tension of the soldiers’ tremendous pride in service, the racism that affects their livelihoods, and the challenges they faced (and continue to face) in the military and back at home.

Hoonah, Alaska is where my mother grew up; it is the home of our clan the Black-legged Kittywake “T’akDeinTaan Clan.

My brother, the late Robert “Bunny” Lampe served during the Vietnam era though he was stationed in Germany and did not go to the front lines as our cousins in this film.  The men in this film are all guys Bunny grew up with since his teenage years.  I remember Bunny saying that when these men returned from Vietnam they were not the same; in fact they seemed “scary.”   Though I did not know this men, I recognize every one of them by either their names or their faces.

The film was very moving from start to finish.

Movie Trailer: http://hoonahsheroes.com


When we came out of the theatre, the second showing was already sold out


90th Birthday Party With Aprons For All

Apron patterns of various sizes from babies to adult laid out to be cut

Apron patterns of various sizes from babies to adult laid out to be cut

My children’s paternal grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday this past Sunday on May 17th with her 2 children, 6 grand children and 8 great-grandchildren.  For her birthday present, I sewed up Alaskan-inspired aprons.

Sewing the pockets

Sewing the pockets

10 years ago I had bought $600 worth of fabrics for a large wall mural that I was supposed to create for the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, but they re-nigged on the project so all the fabrics hung out in my attic until most recently.  Out of the collection I chose a few fabrics with colors of the Alaskan landscape, particularly the blue-berries!

The stack of finished aprons

The stack of finished aprons

The sizes of aprons ranged to fit people who were 4, 6, 9 and 16-month to 3 and 5-year old and two 7-year-olds and of course one for Great Grandma Shirley!  Though I was on a time crunch with all my other projects and business, I had such a blast during the making of these aprons!  I am reminded once again how much I love to sew for those I love and I get a kick in the pants dressing up people, whether for a birthday party, wedding or a traditional Native ceremony!


All the kids and great grandma wear their aprons….Left to Right front row: Violet Hudson, Great Grandma Shirley, Amelie Haas, Louis Hope — L to R back row: Ursala Hudson holds Simone Haas, Rowenn Kalman holds Aisley Salas, Elizabeth Hope, Lily Hope holds Eleanor Hope, Ishmael Hope holds Mary Goodwin


Using Leftover Chilkat/Ravenstail Weft Yarns


The Hope grandchildren, Bette, Louis, Mary and Eleanor  model hats made by  Grandma Rissy!

After 20+ years of weaving Chilkat and Ravenstail robes, I have accumulated left over weft yarns in shades of whites, blues, yellows and blacks, not quite enough for any significant weavings, so I decided to put these yarns to use.


Grand-daughters Violet, Simone and Amelile–Chilkat hats made by Clarissa Rizal – Winter 2014-15

Nearly 40  years ago, instigated by the need for beautiful, ear-flap hats to keep the wind, rain/snow and cold out  for my own children,  I became a hat maker and there are a few folks out there who still have their winter hats that I made.  Those hats back then have my design trademark at the top of the hats:  the star or starfish, as shown in these photos.  Now that I have grandkids, I am back to making these hats…happily, I have come full circle…!


Grandma Rissy has nicknames for all her grand-children: SikiKwaan, Ajuju, Wasichu, and Inipi — Chilkat hats by Clarissa Rizal – Winter 2014-15


Birthday Bio


Clarissa and her children, Ursala, Lily and Kahlil – July 2011

A couple of weeks ago, one of my apprentices asked me if I would write a bio of myself that explained when I began to do my art and why.  She said she had to choose someone who had influenced her life to become an artist; she choose me.  This was an assignment she needed to present at her art class.  My initial response was “Gee, I inspired her to become an artist?  But I don’t want to write about me, it is so boring to go back that far and talk about who, what where when and why…”  However, I gave her my word that I would do this for her that night.  So, I “set the stage” with low lighting and a cup of tea; I do this whenever I have to write about my personal life to help me focus with very little struggle – then with very little editing, the words just flowed from my head down through to the keyboard onto the computer screen.  Here’s what came…

19 January 2015

Sitting in the direct heat of the fake firelight of the electric Amish heater in my studio, always bundled in my sheepskin coat, sheepskin boots and hat because the heating device is not large enough to heat this one room where I work and sleep, I am never quite warm in Winter, though it’s better than being outside right now with 0 degree starlit snow. I reflect upon my life as an artist and wonder where it all started and if living the life of a full-time artist, especially now in a place without running water, without sewer, and without sufficient heat, was and continues to be, worth it.

No matter what age, for the past 59 years, I’ve always been a child of creativity, with a drive that is endless. I exist on 6 hours sleep a night; from the time my eyes are awakened by the early dawn until I suddenly stagger to my bed 18 hours later; like I am going-going-going, then gone! It’s only in the past couple of years that I realized that not everyone is like this; where have I been?

38 years ago today, my first child Kahlil was born, named after Kahlil Gibran who wrote many inspiring books including The Prophet, Spirits Rebellious, and my favorite The Broken Wings.  Spiritually-inclined at a very young age, anything written about Christ had to be read; any paintings, prints and photos of Jesus had to be studied, so natural it was to read all of Gibran’s works when I was a young adult. And even though in the western way of living having a child at 20 was considered young, it was natural for me to think it normal because our Tlingit culture had the wisdom to know children are a gift of God.

My parents guided me into the way they were conditioned to get a “real job” to secure a pension plan to retire in 40 years.  This worked for a little while.  From the age of 14 to 20 I had real jobs working as a librarian assistant, a home-health aid for the elderly, a clerk typist for the Governor and for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Contracting, until of course Kahlil was born. Being a new mother was challenging; I was not a natural-born mother because I was such a tom-boy and it was next to impossible to stay indoors day in and day out while the baby napped, I had to keep up with the diaper changes and laundry, and he had to be nursed every 2 hours 24-7! Holy cow!

To keep my sanity I turned to gardening; it got me outdoors yet close to home! I turned to drawing, crocheting and sewing. While he took his naps, and directly after putting the entire household to bed each night, I’d stay awake ‘till at least midnight, creating; it was my therapy! During the raising of my three children, I made a living over the next decades in a variety of ways: besides designing and making Tlingit ceremonial regalia in button blanket, Chilkat and Ravenstail weavings, I was an entrepreneur before I knew what that meant.  I made hats, I sewed custom-made clothing, created costumes for local theatre companies, owned a landscape gardening company, and was co-owner of an online newspaper.  In the 70s and early 80s, I took up learning our traditional arts from some of the best artists of their time: carving, regalia-making, traditional song and dance, metal-smithing, basketry, Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving. Just before my children were grown up and gone I had created a name for myself as one of the few, if not the only, Tlingit women who has been a full-time artist working in all of the above mediums for nearly 40 years, all in the name of keeping my sanity and being a stay-at-home-self-employed-mother because I did what my mother recommended I do: stay home with my children.

In a few years I will be 65; do I see myself retiring soon? No way. I have no pension plan; I have no savings; and I surely do not have an inheritance.   I cannot afford to retire. And what would I retire to!? Would I retire to taking vacations? What for?…vacations are boring; I don’t want to relax – relaxing is a lot of work! Would I retire to volunteering at something?   I been there done that volunteering all my life with the house concerts I used to produce in my own home; with the children’s theatre I used to co-produce; with the art shows and classes I used to teach, just to name a few.   Would I retire to what most people retire to? Watching TV from the couch. What for? Is that really fun, is it productive, is it creative, does it do anyone any good? The only results I see from watching TV is weight gain—too much potato chips!

Would I retire to what some of us retire to? Art and music.

Hello? I am already there; I have been creating art and playing music all my adult life. Does this mean I’ve been retired all my life?   Hmmm…an interesting perspective.

It looks like I will continue doing what I have been doing for almost 40 years.  Why change now?  I’m in the groove.

My children now have families of their own. Each of my children and their spouses are self-employed artists. I have watched them struggle with making ends meet like the way their father and I made ends meet never knowing where our next paycheck would come from and if next month’s bills would get paid. I watch them live like I have, not afford brand new cars, not take any vacations, not have the latest styles of clothing, all the while living with tension about the ability to keep a roof over their heads, mouths fed, and clothing clean. However, there’s a sense of pride and awe that I feel when I see the fact that they stay at home with their children, making wholesome meals from scratch, tending to a flourishing garden, doing their “art” and their little kids “working” right alongside them: happy. These are values I did not realize were taught to them by my own example, someone who has passionate creativity, a drive that has always been driven, at the edge.

Kahlil is a professional film-maker/director who also teaches film a couple of days a week at the Institute of American Indian Arts; his wife Miki is a counselor at the Santa Fe Arts Academy; their 7-year-old Violet enjoys chess tournaments, sewing, ice-skating, gymnastics and basketball. Lily is an award-winning, professional storyteller/actress and also a Ravenstail/Chilkat weaver and teacher; her husband Ishmael is also a professional storyteller/actor, excellent writer who recently published his first book of poetry. They have four children who are being home-schooled. Ursala is an oil painter, block-print maker, graphic artist/web designer, and is president of a local Charter school she is starting; her husband Chris is a lead singer/songwriter in his band, a sculptor and a house painter.  Their two daughters are obviously following their footsteps!  My children and grandchildren live fully.

To my best of my ability, I live a life of integrity. I keep watch of what I do to see what I believe. My offspring and my work is love made visible. I follow my heart because my heart follows the source of creativity that inspires me and continues to drive me. I am old enough to look back upon my life and enjoy it a second time around. All my relations, my parents, my children and their children are proof of the legacy that I co-created and will leave. And when I leave, my conscious will be clear and free, knowing all that I loved and lived, was worth it.

Happy 35th Birthday to Lily Lalanya Hope


Ishmael and Lily Hope with their 4 children Elizabeth, Mary, Eleanor, Louis and Santa! – December 2014

Another fortunate child of mine who snuck in like her brother and sister when their mother wasn’t looking!   Cheers to you for holding up with 4 children, and for making plans to go for your Masters Degree in Education, and starting the online weaving source called the Northwest Coast Weavers Supply, all this while helping to support Ishmael and his career as a writer and culture-bearer!  You could sound like your mother, alas, you are your own strong-willed person — keep it up my dear while continuing to lovingly care for yourself!  Lots of big hugs and kisses, my Nina!

My Son Teaches Film-making at IAIA


Kahlil Hudson on horseback in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado – photo by Tyler Hughen

I first attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in 1988-89 when my youngest was a year old.  Then I went back to pursue a BFA in 2009-2010.  Little would it come to pass that 4 years since my classes there, my son Kahlil Hudson would be hired to teach film!  Huh?  Yep, he’s qualified.  He completed his MFA in cinematography, photography and film directing from UCLA and he’s made several award-winning films.  You can check out his partnership website with one of his best friends, Tyler Hughen at www.lowandclear.com     No, Kahlil doesn’t have his own personal business  website YET  because he’s too doggone particular about how and what he exactly wants on the site!  So in the meantime, we know he’ll make up his mind, we know he’ll get it together, we know he’ll be happy with it when it does get done!

Kahlil on a walk, West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Kahlil on a walk, West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Kahlil has been teaching for a couple of months now; when I asked him how he liked his teaching job at IAIA, without hesitation with his big, relaxed smile he replied:  “…I love it…!  I had no idea I would love teaching what I love to do…the students are great to work with…!  In fact, we are thinking of actually buying our home here in a year or two…!”    (Hmmm….what does this mean for Grandma?  Maybe I will have to position myself in my own new home between Santa Fe and Pagosa Springs — that would mean Geronimo country of Abiqui, New Mexico area.  I love that country right up there in my heart next to the mouth of the Chilkat River on Mud Bay Road in Haines, Alaska!

Kahlil’s grandparents would have been proud of him reaching this point in his life, especially my Dad and Kahlil’s other Grandfather Bob Hudson.  Bob was a school teacher his entire adult life and loved it.  When video cameras first come on the market, my father bought one and took films of everything and anything wherever he went.  Grandparents die way too soon; we could live to be in our 90s if we were taught how to take care of ourselves in many more ways than one.   Why live that long?  So we can see the fruits of our parenting/grand-parenting in the eyes and hearts of our grandchildren!

Geronimo and Georgia O’Keefe Country

Echo Canyon just a mile north of George O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch

Echo Canyon just a mile north of George O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch — a great canyon to play my flutes or chant our Native songs…

The 2.5 hour drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico heading north on Hwy 84 to Pagosa Springs, Colorado is one of the most scenic west of the Mississippi. I am a fortunate one to experience this drive at least once a year, especially now since my son lives with his family in Santa Fe.  The way I feel about this country is like when I drive along the Chilkat River, especially  Mud Bay Road in Haines – my heart and spirit soars!   No other place does this with me like the Chilkat River area in Haines, Alaska and the Chama River area in Geronimo Country in Northern New Mexico…!

The River Chama

The River Chama — my favorite overlook where I will pull out my ukelele and play westerns like “Ghost Riders in the Sky…!”

This country just about an hour north of Santa Fe and in the Abiqui area, in modern-day is nick-named “Georgia O’Keefe Country” – though back in the 1800’s, was known as Geronimo country.  Geronimo was Apache; this is  Chiricahua Apache country.  He was born June 16, 1829 on the Chama River in this awesomely, beautiful land.  There are many books on Georgia O’Keefe, her work, the landscape, her homes and even the interior decor of the way she kept her homes.  If there were books on Geronimo that he actually wrote, I wonder what would be portrayed.

Crossing the New Mexico/Colorado border...

Crossing the New Mexico/Colorado border…

If Geronimo had an iPad or at least an iPhone to take photos of his family, his tribe, his way of life, his landscape and the way he loved, what would we see?  What would he have said regarding the U.S. Government and the wars.  If he had Facebook, what would he have shared?  What would he have written about himself?  What would others have said about him?

When driving through this country, when walking on this land, when camping along the Chama River, only my imagination fills in the frame of each “photo.”

A Sweet Read For Change: “The Intenders”

The "Intenders Handbook" by Tony Burroughs

The “Intenders Handbook” by Tony Burroughs

Quoting author, Tony:  “The Mighty Manifesters — The purpose of this handbook is to help you make your life better.  The Intenders of the Highest Good will show you how to make your dreams come true easily and with the least amount of effort.  We’ve been practicing the ideas that are given in this handbook for several years and have found that the laws of manifestation work very efficiently for us when we do two simple things:  1.  We say our intentions out loud everyday; 2. We meet together with like-minded friends in an Intenders Circle once a week.

This is all that needs to be done for us to start getting everything that we desire out of life.  We must be willing to take a few moments away from our busy routines for these two important things (or something similar that may be called by another name) so that we can consciously turn our deepest desires into real-life experiences.  Otherwise, we will remain unempowered and at the mercy of the every changing world we live in.

To the men and women who can manifest whatever is needed in their lives, it doesn’t matter how scarce things appear to be or what the newspapers and TV are saying.  Self-empowered people simply observe the day-to-day challenges that are going on all around them, while manifesting a world of their own choosing – a world of peace and comfort.  They live happily because that’s what they’ve intended to do.”

You may wonder why I include a number of other things that do not seem to be directly related to the design and production of art (and music) on my blog.  My personal philosophy is that everything in my life affects everything else, no matter the topic, the breadth, the depth, the timing.  Creating art and music is my method of maintaining my self-sanity.  I don’t know about any other artists, but life is not a bowl of cherries all the time.  There are so many ups and downs of which we are not in control, and of course I cannot help but respond.  Art and music helps me to process the negative circumstances.  I also welcome methods of self-help processes.

This book is one of those items that not only validates what I have been naturally working on in my own personal life, the information expands my horizons of thinking and being.  I appreciate this.  I welcome the guidance and forthright words.

I came across this book last week while heading out the door at the doctor’s office; hey what’s that little book about?  The doc replied “…take a copy!”  I enjoyed the read so much, I decided this was something I wanted to share with anyone and everyone, especially my kids and close friends.  I called the number at the back of the book to make an order; it turns out that the author lives in this same little town out here in the mountains of Colorado!  Like what are the chances for that!?

AND when I met up with him to buy more copies of this book, we exchanged business cards and eventually he invited me to the local “Intenders Circle” held every Thursday night starting with a potluck meal…!  Am I going?  Well,…I normally shy away from consistent, organized, on-going “groups.”  I don’t know why I initially shy away from “organizations” but like I mentioned earlier, I intend on making changes in my life and this is one of those opportunities to make a change, right?  If I don’t like the group for whatever reason(s), I don’t have to go anymore!

Tony continues with “Reference Points”:  “From the beginning of the Intenders, we have been guided by three reference points.  A reference point for us is something that we know we can count on.  The courageous mariners of old knew all about using points of reference.  They would pick out certain starts, or a spot on the distant shoreline, and they would refer to these points when they wanted to know where they were and where they were going.  Likewise, we Intenders also want to know where we are going in our lives.

Our three main points of reference are:  1).  Our desires are in us to be fulfilled; 2. Our thoughts create our world; and 3). Our intentions must serve the highest and best good of the Universe, as well as the highest and best good of ourselves and others.”

Tony told a story of someone who had not stated the third intention of “must serve the highest and best good of the Universe…”  That importance of why we must include this 3rd intention in every one of our requests was summarized at the end of the story.   Fetch a copy of this book for yourself and you will understand why!

I will have limited copies of this little handbook available for sale at the Alaska-Juneau Public Market at Centennial Hall during Thanksgiving weekend in Juneau, Alaska.  Come by Booth #P-15 in the main hall !  They are only $4/book.

I will also have these books available for sale during any of my upcoming classes, and art markets coming up within this next year in 2015.

You may also order these little books directly from Tony by giving him a call at his toll-free number: 1-888-422-2420 or visit the website at:  www.intenders.com   Let go of your shyness; give him a call and order your book(s) – the guy is a warm, caring person… Tell him that Clarissa sent ya!

4-Year Old Grand-daughter Spins Warp


4-year-old Amelie Soleil Haas spins Chilkat warp on her thigh for the first time

For the past two days, Amelie has come into Grandma Rissy’s studio and has seen me splitting cedar bark, getting it all ready to begin spinning yards of warp for my next projects.  Amelie tried her hand at splitting bark last week, and to my surprise she was darn good adept at it.  Today, she surprised me even more when she asked if she could spin the warp, to which of course I said “sure, why not?” and I only had to show her one time and gave her all the pointers like I do my weaving students, and voile’ she was a natural !   She spun like she had been doing it all her life (only 4 years!).  I don’t know if I felt so much pride in my life…!  Then again, she IS my grand-daughter and I suppose that’s what Grandmas are supposed to feel like!


Clarissa is touching the large coil of cedar bark BEFORE it is split into the thin strips as shown

After I cook all the sap out of the cedar bark, I split the coils of cedar into very fine strips.  Each fine strip is then spun with the wool on our thighs to create the warp (the verticle-hanging yarns on the weaving loom).  It took me 26 hours to split about a pound of cedar bark; I did it in 2.5 days…(while watching a Netflix television series, of course!).  Watching a movie or television series, helps me to “getterdun!”

Welcoming Jeannette Back to Her Homeland


I finished laying the paving stones at Jeannette’s! —

How many of you have lived in the American Southwest?  (Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico?  If you have lived in the SW, then you know all about the mud sticking to the bottom of your feet after a drenching rain!  And how many of you remember when I had a landscaping company in Juneau back in 1981 through 1993?  It was called Kahtahah Landscape Company; it was mainly just me the designer/boss/landscaper who hired a different crew of workers every year.  Kahtahah in our Tlingit language translates as:  “She who plants” or “planting time” (depending on how you use it in a sentence).  Although I landscaped here and there in Juneau, I was the gardener/landscaper for Sealaska Corporation 1981-1993.   With the exception of the birch trees, I planted all the trees and shrubs down at the Plaza — they have gotten so big now — though sadly some of the bestest, healthiest trees were removed because of technological stuff replacing them (i.e. ATM machine, the energy tower, etc.).

Anyway, back to the American Southwest.  Last weekend I drove down to my friend’s home 20 miles south of Gallup, NM, to a her homeland called Vanderwagon.  Yes, she’s Navajo.  She is preparing her house for whenever she moves back after 40+ years in Alaska; she is going to move back whether it be full time or part-time.  I wanted to see her homeland, meet her family members and welcome her home by bring her some household goods I had been collecting to help start her off.  And because I love to garden and landscape, my favorite part was setting the paving stones!  When I arrived, it had just rained so we were tracking in all the mud!  And the remedy was sitting right outside her door, so I got to work!

Jeanette was given about 80 stones from a sister-in-law who didn’t need them.  They sat outside her front door for a year…until I came along!  I just finished laying the pavers yesterday!  Now I want to lay  paving stones set like this for my outdoor fire pit; I’ve been wanting to do this for the past 20 years,  but I have to wait until I have the extra cash to pay for the pavers!  Doggone, how long must I wait!?


After a couple of days work on setting the pavers, I relaxed in Jeannette’s truck on our way to order washed 3/4″ gravel for the driveway and to lay in between the pavers…I kinda look like Yoko Ono in this shot, don’t I ?


Pendleton Blanket purchased from the Navajo Shopping Center, Gallup, NM

So while on our way to order gravel, the truck started to act up badly.  We took it into the nearby car repair shop.  While waiting for the truck to be repaired, we went to the “Navajo Shopping Center” in business for 50 years — wow, what a place!  It is like a general store that provides most everything that Navajo people are used to buying for every day life,  special occasions and the arts. They have gently-used Pendleton blankets for half off the normal price of the new robes.  I bought one.  As some of you know, I have designed and sewn button robes using these Pendleton blankets as the body of the robe.  I am excited about the design I will do for this robe!