Authentic Indigenous Art
Fine Art Prints by Metlakatla Tsimshian Artist Janie H. Henderson
Janie H. Henderson
I am a Tsimshian artist of the Killerwhale clan. My mentor is the late master Tsimshian carver, Jack C. Hudson, who taught many classes with pride and patience. He continues to be a major influence in Northwest Coastal Indian Art and an inspiration to aspiring artists like myself.
As my mother before me, I was born on the only Native Reserve in Alaska; Metlakatla. This island of Southeast Alaska is founded from elders of Old Metlakatla, BC Canada. William Duncan was the Anglican missionary who had saved our people from poverty and despair. He and many valiant Tsimshian people braved the waves of the Pacific Ocean, in a three-day canoe journey, to land upon the sandy shores of Annette Island’s bay. Among the brave souls, my grandmother, who was only three years old at the time. She, and all the others, had to leave their culture behind. Everything they held dear as a way of life; personal belongings, art, their identity; they left in order to build a better future for generations to come.
My fragile yet resilient Tsimshian people have overcome so many obstacles to be where we are today. Ancestors were forbidden to practice their oral and art traditions. My grandparents were unable to speak our native tongue in school; it was illegal to perform traditional dance and music even within their very own homes. Today, together we as a people celebrate the art, language, and ways of generations past. Each time a word is spoken in Sm’algyax, each time children dance to the beat of drums, every brush stroke made with care, is a preservation of our people’s history.
It is an honor to be part of such a majestic culture through each art piece I create. It is an incredible opportunity to share this honor with the world.
Learn, embrace, share. It is the way of our people.
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