Artifact of the Month
Artifact of the Month: January 2023

Source of Inspiration

Ketchikan Museums is pleased to announce the purchase of "Killerwhale Spirit Button Robe Collar," by Aanchgwanutk', Janice L. Jackson. Janice, an educator and cultural advocate, credits teaching a 2022 regalia class and her family heritage as motivation for making the collar. She said, "While teaching Beaded Hide Collars at the Totem Heritage Center this past spring, my students inspired me with their creativity so much that I made this collar after class." Janice learned beading from her great-grandmother, Mary Brown Bett, an accomplished beaded moccasin maker. Their special relationship continues to play out in Janice's work today, "great-grandma Mary Betts's sewing techniques and beading patterns continue to inspire me as I create pieces that I feel like she would enjoy seeing."

Collars represent the continuum of tradition in modern times and are gaining popularity in Alaska because of how practical they are to wear. They are much lighter and cooler than garments like robes and tunics. Collars can be easily worn traveling or to non-ceremonial events. Much as family and teaching inspire Janice to create, her collar will also serve to inspire future Native Art Studies Program students. Items from the collection are shared with classes so that students have local examples to learn from and to see techniques used by a variety of artists.

Janice's collar features a bold killer whale design modeled after those commonly seen on button robes. Janice was gifted the design from her brother-in-law, master carver Norman Jackson. Norman made the design specifically for Janice to use to reflect her clan history, being Dakl'aweidí (Killer Whale Clan) from Klukwan. The collar is made of vibrant red felt with hand-stitched black felt applique and trimmed with sea otter fur and large mother-of-pearl buttons. Smaller mother-of-pearl buttons, seed beads, and abalone shell buttons enhance the design.

"Killerwhale Spirit Button Robe Collar," is the first piece made by Janice Jackson to become part of the permanent collection. Her collar is on exhibit at the Totem Heritage Center in the Instructor-Student exhibit through September 2023. The purchase was made possible through the generous support of the Rasmuson Foundation and Museums Alaska's Alaska Art Fund grant program.

Ketchikan Museums, KM 2022.2.69.1
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Back of collarBack of collar
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Collar lying flatCollar lying flat
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Beading detailBeading detail
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Button closure detailButton closure detail
Janice Jackson with her collar on display at the Totem Heritage CenterJanice Jackson with her collar on display at the Totem Heritage Center