The Northwest

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Meeting the Locals

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July 23, 2016 — The morning after we arrive, I wake up early and when I come downstairs, I meet Allie, Roblin's wife. I thank her for opening up her home to us. She waves my comment aside, and says she's happy to have us there.

After chatting over a cup of coffee, she sits down to sketch out a walking route from their house to downtown Juneau. I look outside and notice it's raining. No worries, I say, I did bring my rain coat and umbrella, and we can manueuver the rain and find ways to stay dry. Allie smiles, looks down and offers to let me borrow her rain boots when she sees that all I have on my feet are sneakers. Thankfully, we wear the same size and they slip on comfortably.

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We make our way downtown — it takes us no more than 10 minutes. The air is fresh and I hear the sound of falling water. Elisa looks up and notices these waterfalls, creating what look like lightening bolts or borders drawn on a map, as they slide down the cloud-covered mountains. My eyes lock upon the mural below this scene, and I stare at it for amoment. While both of us are gawking, the thought of what we might look like to someone walking by crosses my mind. hehehe! Then, I snap a photo capturing that moment.

As I look at it now, I find myself gawking.

Indigenous Artists

We enter the Tripp's Mt. Juneau Trading Post and I hope we can meet some "locals" that I can talk to, and possibly record. We discover it's an artist co-op, and Elisa is intrigued. We spend some time looking, shopping and I buy a beautiful blue-turquoise ring— the artist who made it comes over to thank me. I still wear it almost every day.

As I am looking through a rack of jewelry, one of the staff members opens a door and goes into a back room; she leaves it ajar and inside I see some men busy, working on something with their hands. I walk over, peek in and then just let myself in. No one seems to be bothered with my presence. They ignore me and keep working, hands softly rubbing the surface of what looks like a hand drum.

Finally, I ask what they're making. "Traditional Tlingit drums," I'm told, then more silence, except for sound of resin being rubbed over leather skin

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I press on and ask about the tradition, and about the "Tlingit People." A woman comes out from another room in the back and offers this:

"Our family is of the Tlingit Nation and comes from the Deisheetaan Clan (Raven/ Beaver/ Dragonfly) from Angoon, Alaska.

We support first nation artists throughout the state of Alaska and of the northwest coast of Canada. We work to nurture the artistic talents of both the young and older, long respected artists. It is our hope that through representation of this art, we strengthen the culture and heritage of our people, while preserving the legends of the past."

They're making sure there are never any borders between the young and elders. Something from which we can all learn.

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