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Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum Welcomes Alaska Native Artist-in-Residence Debra Dzijuksuk O’Gara (Tlingit, Yup’ik, Irish)

by LAM Webmaster on 2022-09-06T15:30:00-08:00 in Sheldon Jackson Museum, Events | Comments

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2022

Debra O'Gara The Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum are pleased to welcome Alaska Native artist-in-residence Debra Dzijuksuk O’Gara (Tlingit, Yup’ik, Irish). O’Gara will begin her residency on September 17 and will work most days between Tuesday and Saturday at the museum. For details, consult the artist residency calendar available at the museum or online on Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

While in-residence, O’Gara will give several artist talks and teach a hands-on ravenstail weaving class. Her first artist talk entitled “Tillie Paul Tamaree: Educator and Tribal Historian” is Saturday, September 17 at 3 pm. The talk will be held at the Sheldon Jackson Museum and simultaneously on Zoom. Call the museum at (907) 747-8981 to reserve a spot to attend in-person.

Zoom details:

Meeting ID: 839 0863 3969
Passcode: 422241

O’Gara describes the subject of her talk as follows:

Matilda (Tillie) Kinnon Paul Tamaree was raven from the Teeyhittaan clan of Wrangell. Tillie was my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1864 and died in 1955. Though I never met her in person, her spirit and life accomplishments have and continue to provide me with inspiration and guidance in my life. In her 91 years, Tillie was a teacher, translator, historian, and activist for native and civil rights.

Tillie spent many years in Sitka as well as a translator for the Reverend Sheldon Jackson, an early leader in the Presbyterian church, and created a Tlingit dictionary. Tillie is the mother to the Paul brothers -- William, Sr., Louis and Samuel in her first marriage, and to Gladys, Frances (Skip), and Florence in her second marriage to William Tamaree of Wrangell.

Debra Dzijúksuk O’Gara is Tlingit, Yup’ik, Irish and raven from the Teey hit taan clan of Wrangell. She is a ravenstail and Chilkat weaver and currently lives in Petersburg, Alaska. As the third artist-in-residence of the summer, she'll be working at the museum most days, September 16-October 9. Her mom was born and raised in Mountain Village, Alaska and now lives in Juneau. Her grandmother Frances Tamaree Sheppard was born in Wrangell and died young. Her great grandmother Tillie Paul Tamaree was a civil rights activist and mother to William and Louis Paul. Tillie’s second husband and Dzijúksuk's great grandfather, William Tamaree, was a community leader and carver.

Debra Dzijúksuk’s Chilkat and ravenstail teachers have been the late Clarissa Rizal, whose teacher was Jennie Thlunaut; Lily Hope, who is Clarissa’s daughter; and Kay Parker. It is through this weaving and the art of her ancestors that she has found sobriety and an ever-growing circle of strong women and other two-spirit weavers. They share stories, lessons, mistakes and victories. They connect with each other and reconnect with our ancestors. Debra and these weavers are rediscovering and reviving the knowledge and stories of our clans that are embedded in the fibers of our weavings.

The Sheldon Jackson Museum is currently open Monday-Saturday, 9 am-4:30 pm and is closed holidays. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free for ages 18 and under and active duty military and their families (with an ID). Call (907) 747-8981 to confirm hours.

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