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Paddle carving workshop returns to Petersburg

A popular weekend workshop on making Native canoe paddles is returning to Petersburg at the end of this month. Two carvers from the One People Canoe Society will be teaching the multi-day course that is open to the public but has limited spots.

The school’s activities director Jaime Cabral told Petersburg’s school board about the workshop at Tuesday’s meeting. “Thanks to Will Ware too for kinda initiating the conversation and then we got that rolling,” Cabral explained. “Doug Chilton who is another master carver in Southeast Alaska, he’ll be coming here with one of his helpers James Zeller and they’re gonna offer that class, here with our shop. Thanks to Dave Owens for allowing us to use his shop and having some tools ready for us and I think they did it two years ago.”

Doug Chilton and Jim Zeller at one of the many paddle making workshops they've offered around Southeast Alaska (Photo courtesy of the One People Canoe Society)

Doug Chilton and Jim Zeller at one of the many paddle making workshops they’ve offered around Southeast Alaska (Photo courtesy of the One People Canoe Society)

Chilton and Zeller were here for a similar workshop in 2015 and the spots filled up for that session. This year’s workshop is February 24th-26th. There are 24 spots available to the general public and people can sign up through the high school office at 772-3861.

Nine local students are also learning more about their Native culture this winter and traveled to Sitka this week to join in celebrations Thursday, February 16 for Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. Cabral told the board he is traveling with the group of seven high school students and two middle schoolers along with Johnson O’Malley tutor Hannah Logan.

“Pretty cool discussions is what is happening with this crew that we’re taking over and there’s about four of ‘em that actually went back and started doing their own family tree,” Cabral said. “So it was really really neat to see that with our Native students that are being able to go on this trip they’re actually looking back into their history piece and a lot of ‘em I kinda said you know you’re related to half of Southeast with that last name that you found.”

The students are marching in Sitka’s Peratrovich parade, watching Native dancers and visiting historic sites. That trip is funded by a federal Indian education grant that the school district receives.

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