Delores E. Churchill is a Native American artist of Haida descent. She is a weaver of baskets, hats, robes, and other regalia, as well as leading revitalization efforts for Haida, her native language.
Churchill was born in Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada in 1929. As a girl, she attended schools that forced her to speak English in place of her native tongue, a typical practice of that time period. She first studied traditional Haida weaving with her mother, Selina Peratrovich, who is also a nationally recognized master weaver. She went on to study traditional Tsimshian weaving from masters Flora Matthew and Brenda White. Churchill further studied at the British Musum and relearned the six-strand weave. After retiring from a bookkeeping career and raising her family, Churchill turned her attention back to basketry at a time when Haida basket weaving was in serious decline as an art form among younger members of the tribe. She taught her niece, Lisa Telford, traditional Haida basket weaving.
Churchill is known for her utilitarian and ceremonial objects that often use spruce root, cedar bark, wool, and natural dyes. Some of her artwork is displayed at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, Alaska, where she has also taught courses in basketry.
Haida language revitalization
As one of the few remaining native speakers of Haida, Churchill has fought to share her linguistic heritage. Canada and the United States both suppressed use of the Haida language, especially through forcing Native children to speak English in boarding schools. Churchill was forced by her teachers in the Canadian residential school she attended as a child to speak English and was punished for speaking her own language. Despite these challenges, Churchill has remained adamant in her desire to preserve her native language and frequently works with Haida children and assisted her daughter April Churchill's language revitalization.
Honors and awards
Churchill is the recipient of numerous awards, including:
- National Heritage Fellowship Award, National Endowment for the Arts
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
- Alaska State Council on the Arts fellowship
- Delores Churchill. Kenai River Council on The Arts. 2003 (retrieved 5 Nov 2009)
- 15, Angela Denning | Oct; 2015 (2015-10-15). "Haida master weaver Delores Churchill shares her story". KFSK. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
- Folk Arts | Master Artist | Delores Churchill
- 5, Maria Dudzak | May; 2017 (2017-05-05). "Delores Churchill honored with Lifetime Achievement Award". KRBD. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
- "Northern Northwest Coast Weavers". Burke Museum. 2001. Retrieved 11 July 2018.