(1960 - Present)
“Being a weaver is the most important aspect of my life. It defines who and what I am…My work has given me an understanding of the importance of becoming the best one can be.”
William White started weaving in 1982 to pass the evening hours at his family’s seaweed camp. Years later, in 1990, he started to weave full-time and has made it into a career. He has traveled extensively studying weavings in private and museum collections. He has learned from experimentation and also from structured lessons given to him in formal and private settings. He feels fortunate to have had instruction from the best weavers in Alaska and British Columbia. William started teaching cedar bark weaving in 1994 and has kept quite busy traveling to outlying villages on the coast to give instruction; as well as various venues in Alaska and Prince Rupert, where he now resides.
In the summer of 1996, William had an entire exhibit devoted to his weaving on display at the Museum of Northern British Columbia. This display included both cedar bark and Raven’s Tail pieces. During the exhibit William demonstrated his weaving on the premises and answered questions from visitors. Raven’s Tail weaving is a natural progression from basketry and became William’s new focus. He has exhibited his work throughout North America in various venues such as the Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit “Magic Fingers: Contemporary North West Coast Weavers.”This new focus challenged him to set higher goals for himself and his abilities as a weaver. Through this process he gained valuable experience in the Raven’s Tail technique. He has gained enough experience in this technique to meet one of his long term goals: the first Tsimshian Raven’s Tail Robe completed since European contact.
William wove this robe in the new location of the Museum of Northern British Columbia where he became a living exhibit. Giving daily lectures on the history, technique and tradition of Raven’s Tail weaving was also part of this work. During 1999 William wove his second Raven’s Tail robe at the Museum; a project which he completed in October of that year. William also works at his home in the evening, focusing on Chilkat techniques. By completing several pieces in this type of weaving, William was working toward producing his first Chilkat Robe. He began work on this project on February 15, 2000.
Although Chilkat weaving originated amongst the Tsimshian people, William is the only Tsimshian currently working in this style. He gives thanks to the Tlingit people who kept this art form alive by never ceasing to produce these beautiful robes.