Willow basketmaker LeRoy Graber from Freeman, South Dakota and Tlingit Basketmaker, Teri Rofkar from Sitka, Alaska are on the list of the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Receipients.
Graber and Rofkar are two of the 11 NEA awards, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, which include a one-time award of $25,000 each. Other winners are from six other states and Puerto Rico.
LeRoy Graber is an expert willow basket maker, a skill he learned from his grandfather Jacob Graber, a German-Russian who immigrated to the Dakota Territory from the Ukraine in 1874.
Teri Rofkar, whose Tlingit name is Chas’ Koowu Tla’a, was born into the Raven Clan, who grew up around traditional weavings of her grandmother. Later she learned basketweaving techniques from the elders of her community and today is known world-wide as a teacher and researcher and as a weaver of the once-lost art form of the Raven’s Tail Robe.
Congratulations to these two fine representatives of the basketmaking community for receiving such a prestigious award to continue their good work!