Tommy Joseph Exhibit | Alaska State Museum Skip to content
Sign

Tommy Joseph: Rainforest Warriors

At the Alaska State Museum April 5, 2013 to October 12, 2013

"My art is a part of my culture that helped make me the artist I am today.

My art is not mine to keep, but mine to share. My teachers are the old pieces.

This art is not a dead art form. It continues to evolve the way it always has."

Tommy Joseph, 2013

Photographs by Sara Boesser

Detail of sign

Idle No More

Slat Rod Legging Armor (spruce and hemp);

Painted Formline: Raven

Left of Gallery

Near left corner of the Governor's Gallery, going in.

Left center of gallery

Far left corner, showing four figures.

Center of gallery

Far wall, showing a case of objects from the Alaska State Museum collection.

Right of gallery

Far right corner, showing two figures.

construction helmet

Wooden Logger's Hat

Tommy Joseph, Sitka, 2009

Gift of the Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Initiative 2010-32-1

Joseph, a noted totem pole carver, was readying himself to raise a totem pole in Sitka, and he realized he needed a hat to keep the rain off his head during the ceremony. He was from a family of Alaskan loggers, and remembering the brimmed hard hats that family members used to wear, he fashioned one for himself out of wood, thus symbolizing his connection to his family occupation.

Little Battles

For the Little Battles in Life

Helmet (Pacific Yew wood, opercula shells, copper, hair)

helmets

Four wooden war helmets as seen from the near end of the left platform.

full armor

Female figure with Marten Helmet

  • Marten Helmet (alder, copper, walrus whiskers, opercula)
  • Armor Vest (buffalo hide, Chinese coins)
  • Tunic (elk hide and sinew)
  • Knee High Moccasin Boots (deer hide)
  • Spear with Athabascan Dagger
  • Double Handle Copper Dagger
helmet

Marten Helmet (alder, copper, walrus whiskers, opercula)

vest

Armor Vest (buffalo hide, Chinese coins)

Tunic (elk hide and sinew)

dagger

Double Handle Copper Dagger

spear

Spear with Athabascan Dagger

full armor

Male figure with Brown Raven Helmet

  • Raven Helmet (alder, Sitka brown bear fur, copper)
  • Collar (alder and cowhide); Painted Formline: Raven
  • Elk Hide Tunic
  • Upper Body Slat Armor (alder and hemp); Painted Formline: Raven
  • Slat Armor Leggings (alder and hemp); Painted Formline: Raven Wing and Leg
  • Beaded Deer Hide Moccasins
  • Copper Dagger with Cowhide Sheath and Carved Raven Handle
helmet

Raven Helmet (alder, Sitka brown bear fur, copper)

Collar (alder and cowhide); Painted Formline: Raven

slat armor

Elk Hide Tunic

Upper Body Slat Armor (alder and hemp); Painted Formline: Raven

leggings

Slat Armor Leggings (alder and hemp); Painted Formline: Raven Wing and Leg

dagger

Copper Dagger with Cowhide Sheath and Carved Raven Handle

full armor

Male figure with White Raven Helmet

  • White Raven Helmet (alder, polar bear fur, copper)
  • Buffalo Hide Tunic
  • White Canvas Moccasin Pants
  • Wolf Dagger with Sheathe (copper, alder, hide)
  • War Pick (yew wood, jade)
helmet

White Raven Helmet (alder, polar bear fur, copper)

full armor

Buffalo Hide Tunic

war pick

War Pick (yew wood, jade)

full armor

Male figure with Female Yew Helmet

  • Helmet Depicting a Female (Pacific Yew wood, New Zealand paua abalone, human hair)
  • Collar (yew wood, Haida Gwaii opercula shells)
  • Hide Tunic
  • Upper Body Slat Armor (Pacific Yew wood, sinew)
  • Deer Hide Moccasin Boots
  • Bear Design Dagger (Pacific Yew wood, copper, New Zealand paua abalone)
  • Bow with Arrow (Pacific Yew wood, sinew, red cedar, feather)
helmet

Helmet Depicting a Female (Pacific Yew wood, New Zealand paua abalone, human hair)

Collar (yew wood, Haida Gwaii opercula shells)

full armor

Upper Body Slat Armor (Pacific Yew wood, sinew)

dagger

Bear Design Dagger (Pacific Yew wood, copper, New Zealand paua abalone)

full armor

Male figure with Human/Man Helmet

  • Helmet, Human Depicted (alder, human hair, opercula)
  • Painted Tunic, Bear Design
  • Upper Body Slat Armor
  • White Deer Hide Beaded Moccasin Pants
  • Double-Bladed Dagger with Deer Hide Sheath
helmet

Helmet, Human Depicted (alder, human hair, opercula)

armor

Painted Tunic, Bear Design
Upper Body Slat Armor

dagger

Double-Bladed Dagger with Deer Hide Sheath

full armor

Male figure with Human/Bear Helmet

  • Helmet, Human Depicted (alder, opercula, human hair)
  • Tunic (Chinese coin, buffalo hide)
  • Knee High Moccasin Boots (deer hide)
  • Eagle War Club (yellow cedar, sea lion teeth)
  • Bear Pommel Dagger with Sheathe (copper, alder, hide)
helmet

Helmet, Human Depicted (alder, opercula, human hair)

vest

Tunic (Chinese coin, buffalo hide)

war club

Eagle War Club (yellow cedar, sea lion teeth)

Hoofnagle painting

Keith Hoofnagle Tlingit Warriors

Print

Collection of Tommy Joseph

Glazman painting

Louis S. Glanzman 1804 Battle of Sitka

Print, 1988

Collection of Tommy Joseph

Holm painting

Bill Holm Raven Warrior

Print, 1991

Collection of Tommy Joseph

Troll painting

Ray Troll
The Battle of Old Sitka
Print, 2002

Collection of Tommy Joseph

case of weapons

War

"The Tlingit waged war for several reasons – to defend clan rights, to avenge murder, theft, and insult, and to capture booty and slaves.

Men prepared for war as they did for other important ceremonial occasions; they fasted and took cold baths to harden and purify their bodies; they consulted the shaman on the outcome of their venture; and they painted their faces and donned ceremonial clothes.

Enemies settled their disputes with a peacemaking ceremony in which both sides exchanged hostages and paid damages. Payment was made in the form of trade goods, the rights to particular clan songs, crest objects, and hunting or fishing territories."

- Tommy Joeseph -

Dagger

Tlingit (attribution),
19th century
Collected by Paul Rabut, n.d.
II-B-1890

Dagger

Tlingit or Haida,
19th century
Collected at the Old Kasaan,
Prince of Wales Island,
before 1963
II-B-1306

Bow

Tlingit or Haida,
18th or early 19th century
Deaccessioned from the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, England
II-B-1896

Slat Armor Fragment

Tlingit (attribution),
19th century
Collected at Sitka by Dr. B.K. Wilbur, circa 1890-1901
II-B-690

armor

Close up of Slat Armor Fragment

Tlingit (attribution),
19th century
Collected at Sitka by Dr. B.K. Wilbur, circa 1890-1901
II-B-690

daggers

Close up of two daggers

Left Dagger

Tlingit (attribution),
19th century
Collected by Paul Rabut, n.d.
II-B-1890

Right Dagger

Tlingit or Haida,
19th century
Collected at the Old Kasaan,
Prince of Wales Island,
before 1963
II-B-1306