raditional art pieces of the Tlingit are brought out only on special occasions, usually in a
ceremonial context. The most widely known memorial ceremony is called the "potlatch" in English. The ritual
display of visual art is accompanied by oratory delivered by selected individuals who are genealogically related to the
deceased, and by songs. When we do this, we are doing what the art was designed and created to do. We are also
imitating our ancestors, doing things in remembrance of them. Each piece records and alludes to an historical and
spiritual event; each piece of visual art is associated with songs that can be heard, dances that can be seen, and spirits
that are neither seen nor heard except as manifested in the performance.
The art is inseperable from the land. The designs are usually images of animals, places or spirits associated with the
places. Art materials come from the land and sea. As we gather food and raw materials for art in our subsistence
economy, we maintain close contact with our environment, and this intimate relationship is reflected in the form and
content of our art.
- Nora and Richard Dauenhauer
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