• JENNIE'S GIFT SHOP

    Located in the beautiful fishing village of Yakutat, Alaska.

     

     

     

  • About Jennie

    Master artist Jennie Wheeler began her craft at the young age of ten. Her mother taught her the Tlingit art of sewing moccasins in their southeast Alaskan home of Yakutat. They had limited sewing supplies back then, and Jennie recalls sharpening two tiny rusty sewing needles. This has caused her to be very resourceful in gathering of materials and very efficient with her skill.

     

    Jennie has devoted much of her life preserving Tlingit culture through her art, while adding her own contemporary features. Jennie continues the legacy passed on by her mother from her grandmother through her gift shop and also by teaching the craft.

    Jennie's Gift Shop

    Tucked away on the tip of Southeast, Alaska, Jennie's Gift Shop can be found in Yakutat. Stop by her gift shop for hand sewn moccasins, hats, baby booties and dozens of other hand crafted art. Not only will you see a spectacular view of Mt. St. Elias and the beach, enter her shop to pick out seal skin pillows, sea otter blankets, regalia, jewelry and hand woven spruce root baskets. You are guaranteed to find gifts for your loved ones, or something for yourself.

     

    Please call 907-784-3338 for shop hours or to make an appointment to visit her gift shop.

  • Community Spirit Award

    Mini Documentary

  • What's Jennie up to?

    Preparing for Celebration 2018

     

    Through The CIRI's Foundation "Journey to What Matters" grant, I have teamed up with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Jilkaat Kwaan, and the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe to offer Regalia making classes through out Southeast Alaska. If you are interested in taking a class, please message me to see if I will be in your area.

    First People's Fund: Community Spirit Award 

    2016

    Each year, First Peoples Fund honors and celebrates exceptional American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists who embody the Collective Spirit—that which manifests self-awareness and a sense of responsibility to sustain the cultural fabric of a community. First Peoples Fund chooses its Community Spirit Award honorees for their commitment to sustaining the cultural values of Native people.

     

    This year Jennie was honored with the award.

    For 30 years, Jennie has been weaving and sewing with materials traditional to Tlingit culture — seal skin, sea otter, deer and moose hide, furs, beads, spruce roots and grass — to help bind and strengthen her shrinking community of 600 people. Most of the objects Jennie creates are traditional regalia for ceremonial potlatches and dance. She also uses her art as a generational bridge, teaching young people and mixing traditional methods with contemporary projects like cell phone cases and purses.

    Jennie believes all the processes that are part of sewing traditional regalia contribute to the passing on of traditions and life-ways. “In order to sew seal skin moccasins, I need someone from our village to hunt the seal. Then it is skinned, processed and finally ready to be sewn,” she says. “Hunting seal and other animals alone is a big part of our way of life. Respect and thankfulness is part of the hunting process, and I believe it is just as vital that we pass on our way of thinking as well as our way of life.”

    Jennie has passed on her knowledge of fur and skin sewing and spruce root basketry to her daughter, Mary Goddard, of Sitka, who nominated her mother for the 2016 Community Spirit Award. “’Whenever you are making something, think good thoughts, for it goes into your work.’ She would remind me of this time and time again,” Mary says.

    In the Tlingit culture, Jennie says, there is no separation of art from living. “They are one and the same. You cannot live our culture without being an ‘artist’ of some sort. We are a group of storytellers, sitting by the fire sewing, or out in our boats hunting seal and sea otter. This is our way of life. By simply sewing regalia or weaving baskets, I am helping to strengthen my community.”

     

    Read more here:

    http://www.firstpeoplesfund.org/news/2016/8/24/to-help-people-grieve

    Long Ago Man

    Jilkaat Kwaan Culture Heritage Center

    I was commissioned to create a replica outfit of the “Long Ago Man” that was displayed in the grand opening for Jilkaat Kwaan Culture Heritage Center. This is part of a permanent exhibit that illustrates our tribe's ancestral land. This clothing ensemble helps to demonstrate several things: the art of skin sewing, how our ancestors lived close to the land/nature----relying on nature for food, clothing and shelter; and it serves as a graphic illustration of how our ancestors trekked over mountains and glaciers to trade with other people.

    Best of Sewing: Skin and Fur 2016

    Sealaska Heritage Institute

    Woman’s Sea Otter Fur coat, Large with satin fabric lining and two side pockets, finished with a heavy collar.

    A Day in the Life of Jennie Wheeler

    by Mary Catharine Martin

    CAPITAL CITY WEEKLY

    Artist Jennie Wheeler has early memories of walking the three miles into Yakutat with her mother to deliver moccasins and other skin-sewn creations. People were happy to receive what they’d ordered, and that made Wheeler happy in turn.

    Her mother, Jennie Pavlik, sewed seal skin moccasins, hats, baby booties, and other garments. Wheeler grew up sewing along with her.

    “She always had such good care in making her things,” Wheeler said. “Whatever she made, she always told me ‘You’ve got to have good thoughts whenever you work.’”

    She and her siblings spent many of their younger years on Knight Island, where her parents had a place. Her mother never had many supplies, and Wheeler remembers having to sharpen two rusty needles. Pavlik would buy one seal skin at a time, and use whatever she could.

    “It kind of makes me smile and laugh whenever I’m sewing,” Wheeler said. “Now I have more needles than I know what to do with, but I still appreciate everything I have. I never take anything for granted.”

     

    Click the link below to read more.

    http://juneauempire.com/art/2016-02-10/day-life-jennie-wheeler#1

    By Heather Hintze

    YAKUTAT –

    Jennie Wheeler enjoys spending a peaceful day in her kitchen weaving spruce roots she collected herself from the woods around Yakutat.

     

    “God gave us all this natural stuff to use,” she said as her fingers moved methodically. ”You can go out to the store and buy a lot of stuff but this is what He’s given you to use and it just seems so natural.”

    Wheeler picked up the craft about 15 years ago when a carver from Sitka visited and asked if she’d like to help revive the forgotten art.

    “In the 1800s, Yakutat Tlingits were known [as] the best spruce root weavers in Southeast Alaska,” she explained. “Then, from my understanding, in the late 1800s all the weavers died off and they weren’t teaching it anymore. There was no one around to teach.”

    Now Wheeler is not only teaching herself how to make different basket styles, she’s also passing it on to others in her Southeast community.

    “It’s very spiritual in a way too, but it’s also a blessing because now I’m starting to teach some of the younger generation here,” she said.

    Her gift shop in Yakutat is filled with her latest creations, including spruce root headbands and bracelets. Wheeler also spends a lot of her time sewing, using furs like wolverine and seal, sourced right from Yakutat.

    “Each piece I do is always pretty special to me,” she smiled.

    For Wheeler, owning her own business is not only a way to make money but also a chance to show off her Tlingit heritage with her traditional crafts.

  • Questions or Comments?

    Call or Message

    907-784-3338