Interviewee: Maria Ackerman
IWY TX 006
Interviewer: Veronica Tiller
Date: November 19, 1977
Maria Ackerman, a Tlingit woman, worked in schools in Haines, Alaska, as an Indian education coordinator. She attended the National Women’s Conference to participate in an art exhibit and demonstrate Chilkat blanket weaving. Interview includes discussion of Ackerman’s community in Alaska, including how the women are teachers and their husbands provide childcare and clean homes. She also discussed her lack of involvement in the women’s organizations since she moved from Anchorage, Alaska to Haines. Ackerman believed that patience would greatly help the women’s movement.
Veronica Tiller: This is Veronica E. Tiller taping an interview with Maria Ackerman, from Alaska, on November 19, 1977, at the IWY in Houston, Texas. Maria, tell me, what are you doing here at this convention?
Maria Ackerman: I’m with the art exhibit demonstrating Chilkat blanket weaving.
VT: Maria, could you give me your full name, address, and phone number?
MA: Haines, Alaska. I’m working with a school– an elementary school and a high school in Haines as an Indian ed. coordinator, and my address is just General Delivery. My phone number is (907) 766-2877.
VT: And do you have a phone number?…
MA: That is my home phone number…
VT: Oh, I see. Okay, thank you… Besides weaving this blanket as an exhibit, what do you expect of this conference? Do you think it’s important?
MA: Oh, yes. We have problems back home, have to do with men. All the women are working. We’re forced into liberation, and the women are teaching and the husbands are home babysitting and cleaning house. There’s about twelve hundred people living in Haines, and the only work that’s available is just for women, mostly.
VT: What kind of an Indian are you?
MA: I’m a Tlingit.
VT: Tlingit…How did you get involved?
MA: I lived in Anchorage for six years, and I’m always doing some kind of art work. And I was with the visual arts center, and this is how I was able to come down here and demonstrate the weaving.
VT: Do you have any affiliation with any groups…Indian women’s groups?
MA: None at all. I’m just more on my own on everything I do.
VT: Is this the general feeling among… Do you think you’re representative of the feeling among Tlingit women in Haines, Alaska?
MA: My feelings?
VT: Yes, yours.
MA: Not really….Everybody’s on their own with their art work, too. We don’t have an arts center or anything. I just hire resource people to come in and teach bead work, skin sewing, carving, and everything.
VT: So you’re not directly involved in any of the women’s issues or women’s movement?
MA: Not really. I came here with the Anchorage group. I was asked to come down before I moved to Haines this summer. Nobody really asked me to do anything.
VT: So you’re just demonstrating your art. Is there any one single event that brought your level of consciousness up concerning the women’s movement?
MA: Well, I think for me mostly it’s patience, to show patience on weaving and everything.
VT: You think that having patience– women having patience is going to help the movement?
MA: It sure will.
VT: Well, thank you very much.
End of Interview