White, William (1960 - )

Also known as

Li'amlax'uu

Culture/Community

Tsimshian (Fort Rupert)

Biography

William White started weaving in 1982, to pass the evening hours in his family's seaweed camp. He first learned basket making from his aunt, Betty Samson, who was the last Tsimshian basket maker. In 1990 he started to weave full time and made it his career choice. He has traveled extensively studying weavings in private and museum collections. He has learned from experimentation and also from structured lessons given to him in formal and private settings. He feels fortunate to have had instruction from the best weavers in Alaska and British Columbia. William started teaching cedar bark weaving in 1994 and travels to outlying villages on the coast to give instruction, as well as various venues in Alaska and Prince Rupert, where he now resides. In the summer of 1996 he had an entire exhibit devoted to his weaving at the Museum of Northern British Columbia, including both cedar bark and Raven's Tail pieces. During the exhibit he demonstrated his weaving and answered questions from visitors. Raven's Tail is a natural progression from basketry and became his new focus. He has exhibited his work throughout North America in various venues. This new focus challenged him to set higher goals for himself and his abilities as a weaver. Through this process he gained valuable experience in the Raven's Tail technique, and has met one of his long-term goals: the first Tsimshian Raven's Tail robe since European contact. He wove this robe at the Museum of Northern British COlumbia, where he was part of a living exhibit and also gave daily lectures on Raven's Tail weaving. During 1999 he wove his second Raven's Tail robe at the Museum. He also weaves Chilkat regalia: aprons, leggings, bags, and headdresses. In 2002 he began his first gwishalaayt robe at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, in the context of the exhibit, "My Ancestors Are Still Dancing". This robe was completed on December 8, 2004. Although Chilkat weaving originated amongst the Tsimshian people, William White is the only Tsimshian person currently working in this style, which he is teaching to his Tsimshian apprentice Pearl Innes and his Haida apprentice Sherri Dick.