Nathan Jackson (artist)

Nathan Jackson at work in his studio in August 2012.

Nathan Jackson (born August 29, 1938)[1] is an Alaska Native artist. He is among the most important living Tlingit artists[2] and the most important Alaskan artists.[3] He is best known for his totem poles, but works in a variety of media.

Jackson belongs to the Sockeye clan on the Raven side of the Chilkoot Tlingit.[1] As a young adult, he served in the military in Germany, and then became involved in commercial fishing. While ill with pneumonia and unable to fish, he began to carve miniature totem poles. His interest in art was piqued, and he enrolled in the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, Jackson's work has included large totem poles, canoes, carved doors, wood panel clan crests, masks, and jewelry. Jackson has worked to pass on traditional Tlingit carving skills to younger artists, and has offered many demonstrations and workshops in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.[1]

Jackson has created more than 50 totem poles,[4] some of which are on display in the National Museum of the American Indian,[5] the Field Museum in Chicago,[6] Harvard University's Peabody Museum,[7] and other museums in the United States, Europe, and Japan.[1] Other totem poles stand outside Juneau-Douglas High School,[8] Juneau's Centennial Hall,[8][9] in Juneau's Sealaska Building,[8] in Totem Bight State Historical Park,[10] at the Alaska Native Heritage Center,[3] at Saxman Totem Park,[11] and at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan.[9]

He is a recipient of a 1995 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts,[1] a Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award (2009),[12][13] and an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Alaska Southeast.[1]

Jackson currently resides in Ketchikan, Alaska.[14] His wife and son are also artists.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Nathan Jackson". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  2. ^ "Contemporary artists: Tlingit". American Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Dunham, Mike (August 31, 2010). "Tlingit 'peace' headpiece now in Juneau museum". Juneau Empire.
  4. ^ Rennicke, Jeff (May–June 2008). "Totem poles". Via. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah.
  5. ^ "Kaats (depicting the story of a man who lived with a bear family)". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Field Museum's new totem pole erected". (Associated Press). April 2, 2007.
  7. ^ "NAGPRA in the Museum GalleriesNAGPRA in the Museum Galleries". Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c "A list of local totem poles". Juneau Empire. August 26, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Hilary Stewart (1993). Looking at totem poles. Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 171, 183. ISBN 978-1-55054-074-1.
  10. ^ "Totem Poles at Totem Bight State Historical Park". Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  11. ^ Holing, Dwight (February 22, 1987). "Totems speak of another way". Milwaukee Journal. p. H1.
  12. ^ Stalzer, Cassandra (May 15, 2009). "Nathan Jackson receives $25,000 Distinguished Artist Award; Foundation Also Names Eight Fellows, 17 Project Grants". Rasmuson Foundation. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  13. ^ Dunham, Mike (May 16, 2009). "Rasmuson Grants are announced". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012.
  14. ^ "Nathan Jackson receives $25,000 Distinguished Artist Award". Capital City Weekly. May 20, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2011.