Anisalaga (Mary Ebbets Hunt), Chilkat Blanket, 1880’s, at the U’mista Cultural Centre Photo: Marina Dodis
In the nineteenth century Anisalaga, aka Mary Ebbets, the daughter of a Tlingit chief met and married Hudson’s Bay trader Robert Hunt, and settled in Kwakwaka’wakw territory at Fort Rupert BC. She brought with her the tradition and rights to weave “Chilkat” blankets. Anisalaga wove thirteen blankets during her life, most as legacy gifts for her thirteen children. Her descendants include many of the best-known Kwakwaka’wakw artists.
In the summer of 2013 an event was held in Fort Rupert to commemorate her memory. The program included a display of artifacts related to Anisalaga’s life, a feast and a public discussion among her descendants about her importance to them. A film of this event was created by artist Corrine Hunt.
February 2014: When an Ottawa curator noticed that a Anisalaga blanket was coming up for auction in Paris, one which had been photographed by Edward Curtis in the early twentieth century, the U’mista Centre was immediately informed. The Paris auction, however, was the next day. Fortunately, the blanket remained unsold at auction. Afterwards money was hurriedly raised by the Centre to purchase it from its American owner.
In March 2014, an event at the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay BC celebrated the acquisition and return of that long-lost Paris Chilkat blanket woven by Anisalaga. The welcoming event can be viewed in a short Vimeo film at: http://vimeo.com/66285019
April 2014: With assistance from the Bill Holm Center at the Burke Museum in Seattle, a group from the U’mista Centre visited the Autry Museum in Los Angeles. Two Chilkat blankets by Anisalaga are in that collection. Details of one of the blankets can be seen at: http://collections.theautry.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record&id=M225625&type=101