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2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Teri Rofkar

Teri Rofkar
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"Basketry is in everyone's background, no matter where their ancestors may have lived; you just have to go back far enough. The part that makes the art unique is the materials used. This art form is a reflection of the relationship we have with where we live."
—Teri Rofkar

The 2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honors Teri Rofkar as a finalist for her efforts to preserve the Tlingit's ancient art of weaving and basketry. Rofkar's artwork serves as a link in sustaining indigenous culture in a modern context. In the context of her Southeast Alaskan cultural heritage, she has focused diligently on the renewable use of natural resources with the Tlingit's cultural art of weaving. Rofkar is a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (Tlingit) and resides in Sitka, Alaska.

During summer seasons, Rofkar demonstrates methods of weaving and basketry at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center (SEAICC) and in connection with museums throughout the United States. Through these venues, she educates thousands of people with the message of renewal and respect for natural resources. In 2003, Rofkar also traveled to the east coast museums as part of a Smithsonian Institute's 2003 National Museum of the American Indian fellowship. She researched robes and baskets gathered from the Tlingit from the 1800s to early 1900s.

Rofkar is writing a book, in conjunction with the Sealaska Heritage Institute, on traditional methods of gathering materials for Tlingit basketry. Rofkar recently applied for a permit from the Federal Subsistence Board for the 2004 Mt. Goat Wool Project. Weavers with the SEAICC utilized the mountain goat wool for traditional Tlingit Chilkat and Raven's Tail weaving.

Rofkar connects indigenous and non-indigenous regional and national leadership through her work at many noteworthy museums and cultural centers. She has been an instructor or lecturer for culturally and geographically diverse organizations around the country including the American Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Yale Peabody Museum and the Denver Museum of Natural History.

In her role as an educator, Rofkar has served as an artist-in-the-schools and a master artist for the Alaska State Council on the Arts apprenticeship program. She has also participated in the Alaska Elderhostel Program as a lecturer and demonstrator.

Rofka is a member of the Sitka Tribe Enterprise Board. She was commissioned to weave baskets for the 2002 Governor's Art Awards in Alaska. Rofkar's mother and daughter are also weavers.


2004 Honorees

Clarence Alexander

Ivan Jackson, Sr.

Sarah James

Teri Rofkar

Terry Williams


Learn More

About Teri Rofkar:

The First 50 USA Fellows Announced
United States Artists, December 4, 2006


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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