Haida artists to lead AFN convention, speak on heroism in the homeland

World-renowned Haida weaver Delores Churchill and her grandson, the Haida master carver Donald Varnell, will represent Southeast Alaska as keynote speakers during this year’s Alaska Federation of Natives convention.

The AFN Annual Convention is the largest annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples. Each year, the AFN Convention draws between 4,000 to 5,000 delegates and observers. The proceedings are broadcast live statewide via television and radio and webcast to some 70 countries worldwide.

Churchill is a Chilkat weaver from Ketchikan whose artistic influence and knowledge of the art stretches around the globe. She has also worked as a researcher and consultant, helping curators identify works in museum collections.

Her role as an artist and culture bearer has received accolades such as the Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska Southeast, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Artist residency, a travel grant from the Alaska State Council On The Arts to study Haida basketry in London and Canada and a Sealaska Heritage Foundation study grant.

Also from Ketchikan, Varnell is a folk and traditional artist who blends tradition with social, cultural and political ideas in his multi-disciplinary works of art.

He has apprenticed under Tlingit master-carvers Nathan Jackson and Will Burkhart, as well as Haida master-carver Reggie Davidson. His work stands in public, museum and private collections worldwide and throughout Alaska. He has been awarded numerous Percent for Art commissions at schools and youth facilities throughout Alaska as well as a Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship.

“AFN is pleased that Delores and Donald have accepted our invitation,” AFN President Julie Kitka said. “Having these two keynote speakers is a way for AFN to showcase the actual sharing of our cultural traditions between generations, and they are an inspiration to the entire Native community.”

The convention will take place Oct. 15-17 at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage, and the keynote addresses are scheduled for the first day. The theme for this year’s convention, “Heroes in Our Homeland,” will be highlighted by the speakers; it is a reflection of Alaska Native values and guides the structure and focus of the convention gathering.

“This year’s theme was chosen as a way to recognize and celebrate the many heroes living among us, the people working humbly to strengthen our communities,” Kitka said.

More in News

The 2022 graduating class of River City Academy celebrates Tuesday, May 17, 2022, outside of Skyview Middle School just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
River City Academy says goodbye to 19 grads, 2 original staff members

Tuesday’s graduation was the last for two staff members who have been with the school since its beginning

Lawmakers from both bodies of the Alaska State Legislature mingle in the halls of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the last day of the legislative session, following the Senate’s passing of the state’s budget bill. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Senate agrees to budget, House has until midnight

With hours left in session, House members remain divided

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly OKs new tax exemptions for independent power producers

The ordinance was brought forth in response to a proposed solar farm on the Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Central High School graduates throw caps at the end of their commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Make a great life’

Kenai Central High School graduates more than 75 students

A black bear gets into a bird feeder in April 2005 at Long Lake, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Watch out for bears, moose

Take precautions to keep attractants away from bears and give moose and calves space

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank, left, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander present during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Flat mill rate, sales tax included in Kenai budget proposal

The budget proposal is subject to final approval by the Kenai City Council

Senate effectively kills restrictive transgender sports bill

Bipartisan group of senators votes to table controversial bill

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Committee compromises on PFD in budget plan

Members of the conference committee agreed Tuesday to a payment of about $3,800

Most Read