An Eternal Friendship With My Mamma

Irene and Clarissa at Celebration 2000

My mother passed away yesterday on a day of freedom, Independence Day, the 4th of July.  I know my mother has been liberated from the restraint of her aged, wretched body.  After intense suffering since the passing of our father over two years ago, including the recent passing of a son three months ago, she’s now a free woman.   8 days prior, she turned 86.

Irene with Clarissa and younger brother, Timothy - Summer 1958

Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe was born June 25, 1925 in Port Althorp, a place that doesn’t exist anymore, near Hawk Inlet.  She was born during her family’s  Summer fish camp to Juan and Mary Sarabia.  They spent their winters protected from the cold North winds in the small village of Hoonah, near Glacier Bay.  Eventually her parents worked Summer months at the Excursion Inlet Packing Co. (XIP); and in 1955 while working at the cannery, she met and married my father, William Lampe on August 20th.  Nine months later, I was born.  My parents dispute over my name.  I would have been named Kate if I were born on June 5th, my mother’s eldest sister Katherine Mills’ birthday; or, I would have been named Patricia (i.e. Pat), after my father’s mother Patricia Rizal Lampe if I were born any other day other than June 5th.   However, the day before I was born, my father dreamt a girl would be born to them and her name was Clarissa, a name he had never heard before.

William B. Lampe & Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe model the Eagle & Raven button blanket robes made by their daughter Clarissa - 1987 - collection of Tlingit & Haida Central Council offices, Juneau

Irene helps sew the button blanket wall mural "Following Our Ancestors' Trail" - 1992 - Private Collection, Austin, Texas

Most of her adult life, our mother helped support our family by working for various state and local agencies including the State Department of Education, Department of Health & Social Services, the Department of Revenue and Tlingit & Haida Central Council.  A year after she retired in 1990, she said she didn’t know how she got all the things done that needed to get done when she worked a “real job.”  She enjoyed traveling with her husband, hosting her grandchildren overnight, sewing quilts, crocheting afghans, taking daily walks and getting back to her bead work.  She said she learned how to bead work when she was 5 (I have that 5-year-olds’ first beadwork), and that it felt good to get back to beading after almost a 60-year absence.

Sewing a beaded eagle for the back of her husband's vest - June 2005

One day I realized that I didn’t have a button blanket of my own.   (Uh, huh.  You are most likely thinking about the shoemaker who doesn’t make his own shoes and goes barefoot.  Yep.  That’s what I had been –  over 20 years as a regalia-maker of robes for others, but not for myself nor family – yup!)  Because I could create any kind of robe I wanted, from a Chilkat robe to a Ravenstail robe to a button blanket, I asked what kind of robe would I make for myself, and the answer was:  “…you design the robe, coordinate the colors to match your tunic (I inherited in 1976 from my maternal Uncle Leonard Davis) and have your mother do the bead work; it will then hold special meaning for you…”  – of course, why didn’t I think of that long time ago!? –  The robe is made with deep red and deep brilliant blue melton cloth of 100% wool, antique, carved Mother-of-Pearl buttons, and machine-embroidered braid.  The bead work and designs were sewn by my mother; I sewed the robe and did the embellishments with the embroidered braid and buttons.     Below are images and details of the robe.

Clarissa's Black-legged Kittywake T'akDeinTaan button blanket robe - a collaboration with mother Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe who did all the bead work, and Clarissa designed and sewed the robe - 2005

*(For many our clan assumed the emblem as the common Seagull, and for many years I had questioned and doubted our clan emblem as a Seagull because the beaded representation of our  clan designs was a bird that had a golden beak, black markings towards the tip of its wings and if there were legs portrayed in the design, they were black; plus, there was generally two birds hovering above a nest – to indicate that the nature of the bird:  both parents raise their young.   Due to my sister Irene Jean Lampe’s research a several years ago, we are now on the right track of the true identity of our clan emblem of the Black-legged Kittywake T’akDeinTaan.).

Small sea bird commonly dwells on cliffs near glaciers called the"Black-legged Kittywake" - Clan emblem to the Alaskan Tlingit T'akDeinTaan - beaded by Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe for her daughter Clarissa's robe - 2005

Close-up of the carved, antique Mother-of-Pearl buttons placed on the machine-embroidered braid along the borders of the button robe - Clarissa Rizal - 2005

When I put together the robe, I felt a need to “give back” to my mother.  What could I do to repay her for the hours and talent she put into my robe?  She would not take money from me.  So I left the “debt” wide open until the idea came a year later when we were looking through her large box of all the bead work she had created over the course of 15 years since she retired in 1990; she had beaded flowers of all sorts and sizes and she had beaded at least 10 of the Black-legged Kittywakes.   Suddenly, the idea popped into my head:  “…sew up button robes for all of your Mother’s children and grand-children and place her bead work on each robe…”  She loved the idea.  This project ended up being a collaboration between mother, daughter and granddaughter; I sewed the robes, daughter Lily sewed the buttons, and we sewed down Mom’s bead work on each robe.  We also sewed a couple more octopus bags fashioned after the one (on the right) that my mother had sewn.  A weaving apprentice Julia Sai Carlson, had helped attach Mom’s bead work to the bags too.   I had never sewn octopus bags before; it was fun.  All the bead work was designed and sewn by our Mother.  Below are the three octopus bags with Irene’s bead work.

The Octopus bags - August 2005 - collection of Robert Lampe's family

After my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary dinner on August 20, 3005, we went to their house to do a family ceremony of “bringing out the robes.”  My parent’s children and grand-children were present.  My mother gave a speech; it was an emotional time for her.  (She had said she is not a public speaker – not even in front of her own family.)  I was proud of our Mother.  She spoke of how she kept the old bead work patterns that were once her Mother’s (Mary Wilson Sarabia), she mentioned that each robe had our clan emblem, the Black-legged Kittywake T’akDeinTaan, or a beaded raven (for our brother, Robert); she hoped that each of us would keep our robes long after she was gone.  Directly after her speech, our sister Irene Jean sang and drummed a Tlingit song, and for the first time in our family, we witnessed all our family members dancing together; it was a thing of beauty, we laughed together.  I felt this was a significant moment in our family’s life.  My parents beamed.

We honored our parent's 50 years of marriage, with new robes for all the children and grandchildren - August 2005

Also, as part of our parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, we took a 3-day trip to Excursion Inlet.  Included in our entourage was my sister Dee, my kids Kahlil and Lily, my apprentice Julia and myself.  We joined our brother Rick, cousins Janie, Linda and 2nd cousins Thomas and Lydia.  I have fond memories of spending a few Summers in Excursion Inlet when I was a child; it was a good feeling to hear stories of my parent’s days as young adults – it was good for my own children to experience the place and to hear the stories.  We tend to forget that old people were once young.

William and Irene walking the "boardwalk" in Excursion Inlet - the cannery village where they first met in 1955 - He was a fisherman with his own seiner and had stopped there for the Summer, she worked in the cannery - August 2005

Another thing my mother incorporated into her life as soon as she retired was a daily walk.  No, not just a walk around the block, but a real walk!  Years of working at a “normal” job kept her in the condition of waking at 5am, so by 6am she was ready to go.  From the age of 65, she began walking at least 6 miles a day.   Sometimes she would walk with her friend, Lillian Austin.  Sometimes she walked with another friend, Rachel Carpenter.   She paced a steady rythym.  I remember a time about 10 years ago, when she was 76, our brother Bunny met us at the Hoonah ferry terminal and we walked into town.  At one point, we noticed she was walking way ahead of us; none of her kids nor husband kept up with her pace!  The following photos are a few places where we walked…

Walking the Flume - July 2007

Walking the Juneau tour ship dock...June 2007

Walking Auke Bay...August 2007

Taking a rest on the Dan Moller Trail...2001

Starting in 2005, my parents began to ask me when I would move back home, so in 2007 I moved up to Juneau for about 7 months.  During this time we took a couple of ferry trips; one to Hoonah (and my father hadn’t been there for over 30 years), and the ferry to Skagway to drive up to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (a place they would pass through when they took their annual Summer drive into the Yukon and interior of Alaska.)  I also took my parents on day trips in Juneau they hadn’t been in many, many years like the Lena Loop picnic area, Auke Bay, Eagle Beach, Echo Cove, Thane Road, Evergreen Bowl, Twin Lakes and Sandy Beach; and to places they had never been like The Flume and the Treadwell Mine.  I knew then what is confirmed now:  Forever I will cherish the Spring/Summer of 2007  – the time I made to enjoy with my parents.

William & Irene walk the Treadwell Mine Trail...July 2007

About 20+ years ago, my father, who was an avid gardener, had too many packets of daisy seeds.  (I say “too many” cuz I quote my Mom.)   During those years, my Mother walked Twin Lakes often with the family dog, Nick.  One day she took several packets of the daisy seeds and sprinkled them on the banks between the highway and the Twin Lakes path.  Over the years, the daisies have naturally spread their seeds.  Right now, the daisies are in full bloom.  The following two photos are of my parents during one of our walks back in 2007.  During this walk, Mom and I told Dad the story of her sprinkling the seeds which resulted in the entire banks covered with daisies.  As we walked the path, although my father’s response was an “Umph”, my mother and I knew he was proud of her.   My Mother smiled quietly; she was very happy to be walking the path with her husband.

Irene walking Twin Lakes admiring all the daisies she "planted" many,many years ago...July 2007

William & Irene walking Twin Lakes - notice the expressions on their faces - he commented "hmmmm....I guess that's pretty good" - and she all along smiled with a spirit of satisfaction and pride...July 2007

Irene's of late walking shoes and cane - July 4, 2011

In 1996, I designed and created a leather button blanket style robe in honor of my mother Irene Lampe, in honor of mothers around the world, and in honor of our Mother Earth.  It is called “Mother Earth Child.”   The circle is the earth and the womb; inside the “womb” a mother tenderly embraces a child, the child tenderly touches the lips while listening to the mother.   The circle of human hands represents the constructive and destructive nature of mankind.  The robe is made of forest green leather machine-sewn appliqued upon turquoise leather with antique Mother-of-Pearl buttons.  The turquoise represents the ocean and sky; the green represents the land.

The robe is currently displayed in the Hilton Hotel lobby in Juneau; it is part of the permanent collection of  Native art of Goldbelt, Inc.  I wasn’t sure about selling this robe to be displayed in a public art setting.  Yet, as I am writing about this topic, I realize the robe in a public setting can be a reminder to all of us how important our mothers are.

Sewing the leather button robe in honor of my mother, "Mother Earth Child" on the 1935 Singer machine - August 1996

When my mother turned 70 in 1995, I felt it was time to honor my relationship with her; I began drafting out this design.  My mother and I were not just mother and daughter; we were friends.  I cannot remember a time when we had any disputes or discord between us (except maybe when I was a teenager and she worried about me like most parents do with teenage children!).   She was always respectful of me even though she did not always agree with some of the decisions I made in my life and I was respectful of her even though I may not have agreed with some of the decisions she made in her life.  Our mother was kind and generous to all of us.  She watched out for us, protected us, guided us and she had a great sense of humor.   Like most parents, she was always “watching our back” even to her very last day.  Even though she is no longer in physical form, I think she will still be watching our back.  Our mother loved us.

I will greatly miss our mother.  Yet, as long as I live and my memory remains good, I will continue to have a lifelong friendship with my Mamma.

In honor of Irene Loling Sarabia Lampe: "Mother Earth Child" - copyright Clarissa Rizal - 1996 - collection of Goldbelt, Inc., Juneau

Weaving Together Gallery Walk

A painting of Eileen Wagner weaving a cedar bark hat

A couple of weeks ago, Della Cheney contacted all of us who have attended the Sunday afternoon gathering of artists at Fireweed Place.  She said that the group was invited to display any of their work in a show down at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.  When she asked Fausto and I to help set up the exhibit last Thursday night, I figured we’d have a few things to show – little did I know we would fill up an entire room!  And little did I know that I had anything to show until Della asked me to show some of my paintings and prints.  Ha-eh!?

Cedar bark hat in display unit by Eileen Wagner, cedar bark baskets by Della Cheney, Chilkat leggings on loom by Fausto Paulo

We were also invited to demonstrate whatever projects we may have on our looms and hat forms, so about 9 of us showed up, set up tables down the middle of the exhibit room and demonstrated the weaving of cedar bark hatbands, baskets and hats, Ravenstail pouches, leggings and bags, and the weaving of a Chilkat robe.

Juneau Arts & Humanities Director, Nancy DeChurney talks with Della Cheney about this evening's Gallery Walk exhibit

There is a feeling of cooperation and inspiration as we all work individually on our own projects sitting side-by-side with a kind of quiet companionship, the stuff that is made of long-term relationships that will most likely last a lifetime whether we are conscious about our efforts or not.

Patrice DeAsis weaves a cedar bark hat while coils of cedar bark soak awaiting to be stripped

Debra O'Gara and Kendra Makaily enjoy Ricky Tagaban's Ravenstail weaving made of plastic garbage bag strips. In the display case are Percy Kunz's first Ravenstail weavings

The beginnings of a small Chilkat robe by Nora Dauenhauer, a pair of Chilkat leggings and Chilkat by Patrice DeAsis, "Totemic Theory" acrylic on canvas by Clarissa Rizal, a pair of moccasins by Percy Kunz, and button blanket bib by Mary Ebona Miller

Percy Kunz weaving a small cedar bark basket - her pair of sealskin and moosehide mittens are in the foreground - Fausto Paulo's cross-stitched Chilkat tunic is in the background

Della Cheney explains her robe design to Melinda Cavanaugh - Fausto Paulo to the left concentrates on his latest Ravenstail weaving

With assistance from his mother Lorraine DeAsis, Joshua prepares cedar bark strands for weaving by running the bands through the "stripper"

Armondo DeAsis and his brother Antonio, are weaving another round of cedar bark headbands

Folk Festival president Greg McLaughlin with wife, Lis Saya and inventor, John Ingalls hang out enjoying all who attended the exhibit

Irene Lampe and her son, Richard, are excited about "digging in" to the wonderful refreshments

Thank you to all who came out on this cold, slightly-blustery evening and joined us for a round of pleasant artistic company and a bite to eat.

Drafting a Chilkat Robe Pattern in Honor of Patrick Mills

Patrick Gilbert Mills

It is one of those unexpected passings; our  cousin Pat Mills passed away a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been thinking of his free spirit, a kind of happiness that I call “happy boy” that showed up especially in his Native dancing or while fishing on the Mary Joanne.  I got to thinking about the vessel with a lifetime of history quietly incubating at the dock in Hoonah.  I remembered the first and last time I was on the boat:  August 1979 on the West side of Glacier Bay called Dundas Bay.  My Aunt Katherine Mills, Aunt Sue Belarde, mother Irene Lampe and all the cousins went aboard three vessels from Hoonah to Dundas Bay – it was a rare and glorious sunny day.

Dundas Bay is a part of Glacier Bay National Park which still legally belongs to the four clans in Hoonah who have claimed Glacier Bay as part of their homeland.  The four clans are the Wooshkeetaan (Shark), the Kaagwaantaan (Wolf), the Chookaneidee (Bear) and the T’akdeintaan (Black-legged Kittywake; that’s our clan).  Auntie Katherine Mills, who was the eldest of my aunts and uncles with my mother as the youngest of her siblings, said that every year her mom and dad, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins would set up camp and gather subsistence foods of the land and sea in Dundas Bay.  (Of course, this included gathering wild strawberries and the unique nagoon berry!)  She reminded us that Grandma Sarabia’s maiden name was Wilson who had several brothers including Shorty and Mike Wilson.  All grandma’s brothers were avid hunters and fisherman.  (Mike Wilson also enjoyed gardening.  My father and I too!)

As Pat anchored the Mary JoAnne in the bay, Aunt Katherine pointed to two peaks of the Eastern mountain range and explained they were the landmarks for the right place for the nagoon berry patch and where the family used to camp.  She said we will go through the trees in the direction between the two peaks and when we come out of the trees there would be a big meadow in a big valley.  We took small skiffs to the steep shoreline.  I remember how quickly the water moved past even while waiting on board the MaryJoanne; it just proved how swift and strong the river was flowing into the sea even though we could not see the mouth of the river.  The place smelled clean and fresh and there was a feeling of true wilderness; the land was brand new.

Surrounded by dark-gray mountains, we indeed came out of the treeline to the berry patch in a valley about 3 to 5 miles long and a mile wide.  Imagine a berry patch being THAT big!  We spent the entire late morning into the late afternoon picking the best nagoon berries ever!  At the end of the day, most of us had picked two 5-gallon buckets – and these berries were about as far away from mankind as you could get so the plants were not just the 8″-high plant we find around the Juneau area; they were 18″ high, like up to my knee, I kid you not!  The berries were as big as a man’s thumb!  I have thought about that berry patch every year since.  If digital cameras were invented then, there’d be lots of photos  smeared all over Facebook.  Alas, this was almost 32 years ago; we didn’t even have an inkling of digital stuff back then!

Anyway, let’s get back to Pat.  What about the Chilkat robe image?

A couple of days ago, as I was thinking about Pat, his wife Karen, the FV Mary Joanne, the berry-picking trip, my aunties and all those from our family who have passed away, I suddenly got this image in my mind:  A Chilkat robe in honor of Pat Mills.  I want to design a robe that incorporates our T’akDeinTaan clan emblem the Black-legged Kittywake flying around the FV Mary Joanne.  When am I going to weave the robe?  I don’t know.  I am just in the stages of  designing and sketching it.  Maybe I’ll do a painting of the robe?

Who’s Pat Mills? Here’s his obituary – written by several nieces and nephews with the assistance of his wife, Karen:

“Patrick Gilbert Mills was born May 6, 1947 at the Mill’s home (“down the house’) in Hoonah, Alaska to Gilbert and Katherine Mills.  He was a life-long resident of Hoonah.  He died January 24 at the Alaska native Medical Center in Anchorage with Karen, his wife of 34 years at his side and surrounded by family and friends.

Pat was a devoted member of the Russian Orthodox Church along with the rest of his siblings.  All being competitive, the boys were always challenging each other to be the best alter boy.  Needless to say, Pat usually won.

He is a member of the TakDeinTaan Clan and represented the clan at many ceremonies throughout SE Alaska.  Pat was the house leader for the Kaa Shaayi hit, head house and is also from Tax’Hit, Snail House.  His Tlingit name is Yiskeiwdusa.  He loved to dance and was a lively participant at memorial parties and Celebration.  Pat is Wooshkeetaan Yadi and Kaagwaantaan dachxan.

Pat was a member of the second graduating class in Hoonah in 1965.  He was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the first Hoonah Braves basketball team in 1964.  His love of basketball extended to many Gold Medal Tournaments.  He was a strong supporter of many Hoonah City Schools sports events.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-68.  As a member of the Signal Corps, he was stationed in Germany.  After his discharge, Pat returned to college, earning his Associates from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

He married the love of his life, Karen Singleton, in a beautiful ceremony outside his grandparent’s cabin in Excursion Inlet on July 31, 1976.  A wonderful time was had by all.  Each year Pat and Karen always made time for each other to celebrate their wedding anniversary even though it was in the middle of fishing season.  Pat and Karen, Karen and Pat — the names just go together after all these years.

Pat lived the fisherman’s dream from birth.  He first fished with his father and then progressed through the ranks starting as bull cook up to Captain.  He fished everything before everything went limited entry.  Pat fished for other Captains including Jacob Pratt Sr., Richard Bean Sr., Warren Sheakley Sr., Dan Sharclane, Sr., Richard McKinley, and Bobby Duncan.  Later, he operated the F/V Alberta before buying the F/V Mary Joanne.  Pat seine fished, crabbed, long-lined, and trolled.  In the past few years he and Karen enjoyed their new skiff and took many family members for rides and fishing trips.

He strongly believed in the traditional and cultural values of the Tlingit Nation, from the gathering and harvesting foods from our land to the roles played by uncles and elders.  He took the time to teach and share with others our culture and history.  He had such interesting stories about what Grandma Mary Sarabia and Grandpa Juan Sarabia said and did in daily interactions with others.  He said, “We could tell who was an important visitor by which snacks we had to set out.”  He and Karen have been very proud supporters of the annual “School Ku.eex.”  They donated time and foods harvested by their hands.  Pat spent a lot of his time fishing and hunting and was generous, sharing his bounty with elders and other family members.  He loved kahaakw and often made jars of it to share with others.

He was intensely interested in preserving the family’s Tlingit history.  He worked to preserve old tapes and videos of songs, stories and dances and shared them with other family members.  Pat was concerned about Tlingit land rights.  He wrote many letters to his legislators, Sealaska, Huna Totem and the Juneau Empire.  He was not shy about letting people know what he thought and why.

Along with his grandparents, parents, siblings and many cousins, Pat spent his summers, and some winters in Excursion Inlet.  Later, he and Karen built a cabin on their land at Excursion Inlet.  They called it ‘the nest’ because you had to climb 56 steps to reach it.

Pat is survived by his wife, Karen S. Mills, sisters, Eleanor Moritz, Rosemary (Tom) Jimboy, Judy Mills, Kathy (John Marvin, first cousins, considered and raised as sisters due to the loss of their father when they were very young, Linda Belarde, Edna (Sam) Lamebull, and Daphne (Frank) Wright, brothers, Tony, George, tom, Mike, Chris, Stuart, and Jeff, adopted daughters, Margaret and Carol Haube, numerous nieces nephews cousins, and many others who called him “Uncle Pat” and “Grandpa”, aunts Irene Lampe, Helen Sarabia, Marie Shodda, and Theresa Howard and uncle John Howard.  He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Mary Wilson Brown Sarabia, Paul Brown and Juan Sarabia, Albert and Emma Mills, his parents, Katherine (Brown) and Gilbert Mills, brother Gilbert “Butch” Mills, sister Phyllis Mills Bean, aunts Sue Belarde and Margaret McKinley and uncles Ed and Bobby Sarabia, Bill Lampe and James McKinley, and his beloved Salt and Pepper.

Services were held at the Tlingit and Haida Community Center in Juneau on Friday, January 28th and a service in Hoonah at the school on Saturday, January 29.”

Young relatives created a Facebook page in honor of Pat, click here to view continuing contributions of photo images and read: “We Love Pat Mills”

‘Bout Time She Showed Her Stuff in Her Own Hometown

Clarissa's Booth C-4 at Alaska-Juneau's Public Market displays her recent acrylics on canvas, Limited Edition Giclee reproductions, hand-made dolls, last of her greeting cards and hand-silkscreened prints, and a few copies of her Chilkat Weaver's Handbook

The last time Clarissa did the Public Market was back in 1989 where after her move back to Alaska from New Mexico; she had a booth in the center of the lobby and introduced the then intriguing dream catcher to Juneau. The Market was fun back then as it is even now!

Limited Edition Giclee prints and original paintings include "Rain", "Tlingit Jedi", "Totemic Theories", "Good Thing I'm Crazy Else I'd Go Insane", "Gray Wolves", "Frog Speaks" and prints of her "Tlingit World Series" collages

Clarissa's mother, Irene Lampe and brother, Rick Lampe pay a visit to the booth

“Across the street” is Jack Tripp, Jr.’s Mt. Juneau Trading Post featuring Native drums, moccasins, carvings, rugs, jewelry and the best collection of antique shell buttons I’ve ever seen!  He’s turning 49 today – we’re just gonna have to beat those drums, sing Happy Birthday Tlingit style and shake a leg!

Mt. Juneau Trading Post's booth at the Alaska-Juneau Public Market "across the street" from Clarissa Rizal's

Fabulous Northwest Coast Native art (and regalia-making supplies) at the Mt. Juneau Trading Post

Jack Tripp, Jr.'s fabulous display of Tlingit art - check out the Chilkat wool rug handwoven in Nepal (no, it's not a traditional ceremonial robe - it's a rug!)

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Spectacular Fundraiser

Halibut, salmon or prime rib were the main entrees for the "end of Summer" St. Nicholas Church fund raiser at the ANB Hall

We ate like little pigs and we still had 1/2 a plate of food left over for tomorrow’s dinner!  This $20 donation is going a long way!

Friends of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church here in Juneau, Alaska sponsored a fundraising dinner on Friday, October 1st to raise funds for maintaining the structure of the church.  Once every few years the church needs to be repainted, the roof re-coppered (or is there another word for replacing/refinishing the copper dome roof?), and minor structural repairs.  Over 200 Juneauites showed their support for this wonderful dinner of halibut, salmon, prime rib entrees served with a baked potato, rice, salad and lots of desserts!

The "Herring Rock" Native dance group sung their hearts out for the dinner guests; although it doesn't look like they are singing here, that's because there was a slight break in the song, okay.

Cousins Gloria and Virginia Sarabia and Aunt Helen respond to the Kaagwaantaan invite part of the song

My Mamma Irene Lampe (with the walking cane and striped, light blue shirt, walked up to the dance floor and donated $10 to the group during the Raven song

An excellent dancer of the Killerwhale clan

Dance members during the outgoing song

The Sarabia Family having a good time

The young DeAsis brothers during the outgoing dance

Song leader Vicki Soboleff and drummer Fausto Paulo

Mr. and Mrs. Hersch - I hadn't seen Mr. Hersch since I graduated out of the 8th grade - he was my science teacher!

The last bit of the outgoing song and dance

Wonderful door prizes were given away (i.e. my cousin won a whale-watching cruise for two, a friend won a helicopter tour for two, and I sure coveted the barbecue gas grill, not necessarily for me, but for my Mom’s household); and a silent auction of a few gift baskets and pies!  My daughter Lily won the apple pie!

Nora Dauenhauer manned the Silent Auction booth - she baked the five pies in the foreground! They went for $25 to $50 each

Irene Lampe and her friend haven't see one another in a long, long time!

Breakfast & Gravesite Visits with Great Grandma

Four Generations: Irene Lampe, Clarissa Rizal, Elizabeth Hope, Lily Hudson

Our mother calls the shots on Sunday.  We know not to make big plans for Sunday mornings because we know that Mom is gonna be calling up the day before and say “…let’s have breakfast at Donna’s…it’s my treat.”  Sometimes our cousins, the Belarde girls and their families attend.   Sometimes  sisters Jean and Deanne; other times it’s just brothers Rick and Tim.  This time it’s a combination that hasn’t ever happened before…

Irene calls for another Sunday morning breakfast at Donna's: Betty, Lily, Ishmael, Dee, Rick, Dan, Mom...and I (not pictured cuz I'm taking the photo)

I hadn’t ever noticed how much my mother enjoys her meals more when someone is eating with her – huh?  – the simplest of things that go unawares for many years until a person’s life gets simplified!  She doesn’t want much anymore.  She just appreciates her every breath at hand.   And because it was another rare, sunny day in Juneau, she wanted to put flowers on the graves, to visit the memories of her mother, brothers, niece, sister and husband, knowing that any day she will be joining them.

Beautiful grave roses

Three weeks before my father passed away in Decmeber 2008, my father requested that we put 5 red roses on his grave in memory of him along with his 4 best friends who were blown to smithereens in a tank during World War II in the Phillipines.  Dad said he would have been in that tank had he been accepted into the Phillipine Army – but because he was an inch too short, he was not accepted into the army.

Our brother Richard Lampe with our mother Irene Lampe visiting graves at the Alaska Memorial Park on Riverside Drive

How many middle-aged men do you know who take care of their mother full-time?  Our brother Rick has been taking care of Mom since our father’s passing almost two years ago.

Our grandparents' graves, Mary Wilson Sarabia and Juan Sarabia

Our Mother Irene says she'll be laying next to Dad someday...

About Clarissa Rizal

Clarissa Rizal painting “Frog Speaks” acrylic on canvas – 2010 – photo by Lis Saya

The T’akDein Taan (black-legged kittywake) Clan members from Glacier Bay’s Hoonah, Alaska are known for their Native songs; many are noted for their artistry.  Clarissa Rizal holds true to her clan identity as a full-time, multi-faceted artist since 1977 working in fiber, painting, music, print-making, landscaping and sculpture.  She was born to the late William and Irene Lampe, and raised in Juneau, Alaska.   Clarissa’s last name of Rizal was her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Patricia Rizal, who was first cousin to Jose’ Rizal, the Filipino martyr of the Philipines.

William and Irene Lampe with grandson, Kahlil Hudson – September 1978

Clarissa specializes in design and creation of Tlingit regalia including Chilkat and Ravenstail  robes and weavings, and button blanket robes.  Clarissa was introduced to NWC carving through the high school shop teacher, Peter Bibb in which she carved a medium-sized “bentwood box”, a mother’s day gift in 1972.  This was Clarissa’s first exposure to the tangible arts of the Northwest Coast.   After teaching her traditional native song and dance, then Yakutat Chief Harry K. Bremner, Sr. introduced Clarissa to the art of the Tlingit Native dance regalia-making in 1973.  In 1986, she apprenticed with the last of the traditional Chilkat weavers, Jennie Thlunaut of Klukwan, who passed away directly after the apprenticeship at the age of 96.  Clarissa continues to fulfill her promise to Jennie that she help revive this ancient weaving by conducting workshops and apprenticeships.  Clarissa authored “Jennie Weaves An Apprentice  – A Chilkat Weavers’ Handbook” which received a HAIL award (Honoring Alaska’s Indigenous Literature) in 2008.  Since 1983, Clarissa has designed and created over 60 Chilkat, Ravenstail and Button blanket robes.  In her rare spare time, Clarissa is currently working on a book featuring all of her original designs of ceremonial robes, including each robes’ “mate” in a contemporary painting.  The publication will be available in the Spring 2017.

Clarissa Rizal weaving her Chilkat dance robe “Jennie Weaves An Apprentice” – 2010

Clarissa’s work is in private collections, corporations, and public institutions including Doyon, Inc. and University of Alaska, in Fairbanks; the Anchorage Museum of History & Art, the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Senior Housing, the Senior Center, and Alaska Railroad in Anchorage; the MV Kennicott ferry from Bellingham, WA;  the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) in Sitka; the Mt. Juneau Tramway, Goldbelt’s Westmark Hotel, Tlingit & Haida Central Council, the Alaska Folk Festival and Sealaska Corporation in Juneau; Highsmith, Inc. in Wisconsin; and Sealaska subsidiaries in Iowa, Alabama and Mexico.  Her work has also been featured in award-winning corporate annual reports, book covers, calendars and posters.  You may visit Clarissa’s extensive website at:

“Following Our Ancestors’ Trail” red cedar wall mural – carved, painted, airbrushed, copper , Mother-of-Pearl buttons & beads – at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage – designed and created by William Hudson and Clarissa Rizal 1997

Architect Reuben assists installation procedures by artists Bill Hudson and Clarissa Rizal – this image provides size perspective

Clarissa also enjoys creating contemporary paintings and collages allowing her a freedom of expression beyond the structural elements of Tlingit form line art.  In 2000, she began a series of collages from “reject” silk-screened prints she had been storing for about 10 years with the intention of making collages someday.  You may view a few of her collages and paintings on her website.

Tlingit World Series (TWS) #91 – collage with silk-screened prints, acrylic paint – by Clarissa Rizal – 2009

Clarissa is a founding board member of the non-profit arts organization formed in 2000, Artstream Alaska (, sponsoring events in Alaska and Colorado.  Clarissa is an artist working with and for other artists.”  She initiated and co-directed many of the projects and events on Artstream’s website including:  the Northwest Coast Native Dance Regalia Documentary project; the Navajo & Chilkat weavers’ cross-cultural exchange; hosted the Whistlepig monthly house concerts featuring musicians/singer-songwriters from across the nation; and spearheaded the first Biennial Northwest Coast Native Artists’ Gathering and Evening concert in 2006.  Self-employed since 1977, she also owned Kahtahah Landscape Gardeners in 1981-1993; and, in 2004-2009, was co-owner of the online daily news source, the Pagosa Daily Post.

Best of Show awards include:  the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, the Heard Museum Indian Market in Phoenix, Arizona, the Lawrence Indian Art Show in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Sealaska Juried Art Show in Juneau, Alaska.

Clarissa has three children:  Kahlil Hudson (, MFA in Film and Cinematography, UCLA, is a professor of film at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Lily Hope  (, MA, early childhood educator, professional actress and storyteller is also a Chilkat/Ravenstail weaver who has launched the Northwest Coast Weavers Supply at; and Ursala Hudson (, BFA, web designer and visual artist who is president of the Pagosa Charter School Initiative.    Clarissa’s grand-children are:  Elizabeth, Louis, Mary and Eleanor Hope, Violet Hudson, Amelie and Simone Haas.

Nearly 5 years ago, Clarissa’s daughter, Ursala, designed Clarissa’s blog site to encourage her mother to blog even though Clarissa didn’t want to; she felt it was dumb!— However, after the blog site crashed for over two months mid-November 2014 to end of January 2015, Clarissa had missed posting and sharing, she missed not being able to use her blog as reference and most of all she missed not having her blog to refer to for photographs of her work, travel, people, etc.!

Like Joni Mitchell’s song….”you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone….”

Clarissa Rizal * P.O. Box 21453, Juneau, AK  99802 * (970)903-8386

Watch Clarissa’s NEA’s Award Performance Livestream

Clarissa Rizal Fld 1 EPhoto1425st6 copy

Clarissa models her latest Chilkat robe “Egyptian Thunderbird” at Eagle River Beach in Juneau, Alaska (Hmmm…Clarissa’s hair is the same color as the beaver fur trim and don’t you  just love her “Raven” ears!) — photo by NEA photographer, Tom Pich

Click on this link to see your open invitation to the general public for the NEA Heritage Fellowship concert:  2016-heritage-ceremony-invitation   

As part of the award ceremonies during the week of September 25-30, 2016, the NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert will be on Friday, September 30, 2016.  For those who are not in Washington, D.C. area, the event will be streamed live at   If you are in Washington, D.C. area, the Friday night presentations/concert is wide open to the public. Feel free to pass this information along to your family and friends who aren’t able to be in DC that day.

Each of the 9 awardees will be doing an 8-minute presentation of their work.  I will be doing a brief presentation on preparing the cedar bark and wool, then spinning, then weaving.  Then the last 4 or 5 minutes, Irene Jean Lampe, Donna Beaver Pizzarelli and Darlene See will be joining me on stage to present some of my latest robes (and of course, the Weavers Across the Waters robe will be one of those robes, worn by Donna), along with an historical robe care-taken by my sister Irene.  To provide the audience (far and wide) an idea of how the robes are used, the four of us will be singing/dancing a song composed and written many, many years ago by our T’akDeinTaan clan member Kloon’eesh (John K. Smith).

Juneau Chilkat & Ravenstail Weavers Gather With A Special Robe


L to R: Marsha Hotch, Michelle Gray, Debra O’Gara, Douglas Gray, Irene J. Lampe, Catrina Mitchell, Karen Taug, Nila Rinehart, Laine Rinehart, Crystal Nelson, Yarrow Vaara, Lily Hope (with her two children, Louis and Eleanor), and Clarissa Rizal (missing:  Della Cheney, Vicki Soboleff, Kay Parker, Gabrielle and Shgen George) — August 2016

On Sunday, August 28, all the weavers just in the Juneau area who contributed a 5×5 towards the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail robe gathered together for a picnic at Auke Bay Recreation area.  It was the first time everyone was able to see the robe (nearly) completed for the first time since they had submitted their pieces over a month prior.  Exciting, rewarding and quite touching, the shear pleasure of being in the presence of the robe with everyone brought so much pride and unity.

Marsha Hotch made an interesting statement, which I most quote here:

“…It’s actually history in the making. In ancient days robes were cut apart and distributed to leaders new items created from the cut pieces or just put away because they felt it was too valuable, or only to later be found tucked in archival in museums or displayed. This robe was put together from many different people, from many walks of life, different tribes, different clans, different communities, but a people who treasure the ancient skill of weaving.

Many of the woven old robes are in museums. The history and story may not be told anymore but we definitely continue to make history, changes. Congratulations to Clarissa and all the weavers. I can’t wait to see what events this robe will be brought out.”

For more information and continued immediate updates on the this robe, we welcome you to please join the “Weavers Across the Waters” Facebook page.

For past updates of this robe on my blog, click the following links:

Weaving the borders and laying out the 5×5’s — August 2016

 The call for 5×5 entries — April 2016 

Singing Tlingit Songs With Harmonies

In the early 70’s I learned the songs from the Mt. St.Elias Dancers in Yakutat, Alaska via Harry K. Bremner, Sr. who came to my hometown, Juneau, Alaska to teach anyone who wanted to learn the songs and dances.  (We must remember that at that time period, there were no such thing as dance groups like there are numbers today, and we never taught our songs to others outside of our clans.)   As a teenager, I sang with many of the Mt. St. Elias elders (as there were very few, if any, teenagers or younger involved).   At the time, I didn’t know they were singing two and sometimes three-part harmonies.  By the early 80’s all those elderly singers were all passed on.  Since then, I have always felt all the songs of the Tlingit need to include harmonies.  In this way, we can truly hear and feel the meaning of the songs.  The many drums in the dance groups of today is okay for those songs that just have vocables, however, the songs that have actual verses with meaning and history, need to be listened to, and what better way than the beauty of harmony.  In this way, the beauty leads the way to retention of the story with the tune.

For nearly 15 years, my sister Irene Jean Lampe has taken it upon herself to learn the Tlingit songs of our T’akDeinTaan Clan songs.  Like Chilkat weaving has helped carry me through my rough patches in life, I believe her learning the songs is what carried her through some very tough times in her life.

Here’s an example of a song composed by one of our clan relatives John K. Smith.  One early evening in a moment of spontaneous combustion, Irene sang the melody and I sang the harmony in the lobby of the Walter Soboleff Building in the presence of our cousin, Miranda Belarde-Lewis.