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Weaver Lily Hope donates Chilkat Protector mask to Juneau’s Sealaska Heritage Institute

Jul 9, 2020

Elizabeth Hope holding up the Chilkat Protector Mask at a ceremony. (Photo by Sydney Akagi. Photo courtesy of Lily Hope.)

A Chilkat mask woven to document the coronavirus pandemic has been donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau.

Famed weaver, Lily Hope, created a similar mask as part of an online art competition in April. It took her 60 hours to weave the mask, which was later acquired by the Burke Museum in Seattle. 

The mask fits similar to those worn in public to protect people from contracting COVID-19. But it was woven using an intricate technique practiced by Indigenous people living along the Northwest Coast for hundreds of years. In an earlier interview, Hope explained her intent to create a lasting piece of art that reflects on tradition. 

“When the person goes out, if they are a carrier, they are essentially protecting their whole community (by wearing a mask) from being sick,” Hope said. “And that’s foundational to the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian peoples. … My aunt says it best: ‘The mask serves to record that we took care of each other during this time.'”

Hope told the Institute she wanted to donate the mask to express gratitude for the organization’s continued support of her art.

The mask, called Chilkat Protector, was donated at a ceremony at Sealaska Heritage Institute, where Hope and weaver, Ricky Tagaban, also unveiled a commissioned Chilkat robe.