Hand woven Sugpiaq bird with beautiful jewels encasing portraits of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women from Alaska
Ancestral hand woven birds like this one are seen in collections of Sugipaq pieces located in Finland and Russia. Though the exact purpose of these birds and other woven animals are unknown, it is no doubt that they carried deep significance. The intricate details and use of precious materials is why I believe these had a meaningful purpose. The originals were woven with caribou hair, cotton, whiskers, and sinew. With the animals you see the bottoms are often a different weaving pattern than the top. Also, the type of weaving that covers these birds and woven animals is different than what is typically seen and taught as standard Sugpiaq weaving in present day.
In Alutiiq culture birds were an important part of Alutiiq society. It was believed that when the birds would migrate for the winter, they would retreat to the spirit world bringing with them messages (and gossip). Because of this we often see bird masks with their beaks tied or secured shut, so they would not tell the messages before reaching the appropriate destination.
The combination the precious traditional weavings with the MMIW message was no mistake. Taking into account the significance the bird figures hold for the Alutiiq people. The final product being that of a woven bird bearing the MMIW hand across it, trailing from the birds back are the memories of each and every MMIW. Each bead is a prayer for a missing sister, each portrait a memory of daughter who was taken from this world too soon. A very special Quyanaa to Amber Webb for your collaboration on the portraits and information.
I left room for additional portraits to be added to this piece if you wish to honor the memory of a loved one in this manner.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are two and a half times more likely to experience violent crimes and at least two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes in comparison to all other ethnicities
-the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics
Start with awareness and acknowledgement, then do more.
“In the United States, Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic.
One in three Native women is sexually assaulted during her life, and over 85% of these assaults are perpetrated by non-Natives.
Due to a history of legal loopholes hindering prosecution of non-Native perpetrators, many reservations have become popular destinations for rapists and serial killers."