Nathan Jackson (artist)

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Nathan Jackson at work in his studio in August 2012.

Nathan Jackson (born August 29, 1938[1]) is an Alaska Native artist. He is among the most important living Tlingit artists[2] and the most important Alaskan artists.[3] He is best known for his totem poles, but works in a variety of media.

Jackson belongs to the Sockeye clan on the Raven side of the Chilkoot Tlingit.[1] As a young adult, he served in the military in Germany, and then became involved in commercial fishing.[1] While ill with pneumonia and unable to fish, he began to carve miniature totem poles.[1] His interest in art was piqued, and he enrolled in the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[1] Since then, Jackson's work has included large totem poles, canoes, carved doors, wood panel clan crests, masks, and jewelry.[1] Jackson has worked to pass on traditional Tlingit carving skills to younger artists, and has offered many demonstrations and workshops in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.[1]

Jackson has created more than 50 totem poles,[4] some of which are on display in the National Museum of the American Indian,[5] the Field Museum in Chicago,[6] Harvard University's Peabody Museum,[7] and other museums in the United States, Europe, and Japan.[1] Other totem poles stand outside Juneau-Douglas High School,[8] Juneau's Centennial Hall,[8][9] in Juneau's Sealaska Building,[8] in Totem Bight State Historical Park,[10] at the Alaska Native Heritage Center,[3] at Saxman Totem Park,[11] and at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan.[9] He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship (1995),[1] a Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award (2009),[12][13] and an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Alaska Southeast.[1]

Jackson currently resides in Ketchikan, Alaska.[14] His wife and son are also artists.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Nathan Jackson". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Contemporary artists: Tlingit". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Dunham, Mike (August 31, 2010). "Tlingit 'peace' headpiece now in Juneau museum". Juneau Empire. 
  4. ^ Rennicke, Jeff (May–June 2008). "Totem poles". Via. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah. 
  5. ^ "Kaats (depicting the story of a man who lived with a bear family)". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Field Museum's new totem pole erected". (Associated Press). April 2, 2007. 
  7. ^ "NAGPRA in the Museum GalleriesNAGPRA in the Museum Galleries". Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "A list of local totem poles". Juneau Empire. August 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Hilary Stewart (1993). Looking at totem poles. Douglas & McIntyre. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-55054-074-1.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Stewart1993" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  10. ^ "Totem Poles at Totem Bight State Historical Park". Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  11. ^ Holing, Dwight (February 22, 1987). "Totems speak of another way". Milwaukee Journal. p. H1. 
  12. ^ Stalzer, Cassandra (May 15, 2009). "Nathan Jackson receives $25,000 Distinguished Artist Award; Foundation Also Names Eight Fellows, 17 Project Grants". Rasmuson Foundation. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  13. ^ Dunham, Mike (May 16, 2009). "Rasmuson Grants are announced". Anchorage Daily News. 
  14. ^ "Nathan Jackson receives $25,000 Distinguished Artist Award". Capital City Weekly. May 20, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2011.