Stephanie Tripp Aandaxltín Teik’
Due to the forced assimilation of Tlingit people, the meanings of our names of have been lost. Like many Tlingit names my name has been passed down through several generations going back hundreds or even thousands of years.
Tlingit, Language Warrior, Student
Age: I was born in April 1993
Provenance: Juneau, Alaska, USA
How long have you lived in Juneau? Since the day I was born
Occupations: So far, my only job has been working at my family’s business, the Trading Post. I began working when I was fourteen years old. Our store is a pretty fantastic place. Iʼve loved growing up there, and itʼs great to be able to work with family since I know I donʼt see enough of them during the school year. We make up for it by spending eight to twelve hours a day together in the store every summer. The Trading Post is recognizable and famous for its chaos; we never fail to fill every space in every corner of the store. This makes for a really cool and interesting display and a daunting chore to dust. We specialize in Tlingit art, but carry art from a lot of Alaska Native and Native American groups. Last year was the first year we also started doing live art demonstrations. Carvers are now working in the shop, which adds another dimension to the art we are selling. It also gives artists a place to work and connect with customers. I design and make my own jewelry out of porcupine quills, which I sell through my family’s store. It’s still more of a hobby than a job, though. Most of my customers have been friends and people at my university, but we have sold a few pairs to tourists who come through the store. I’m definitely still in the process of expanding and finessing my designs. I am currently in my last year of two Bachelor’s Degrees, one in Alaska Native Studies & Languages and another in English Literature. The next step will be to get my Master’s in Education.
Passions and Interests: What I’m most passionate about is the Tlingit Language, which is my Native language. I’ve been studying it since 2011, and it has become my most important educational and cultural goal. It can be a very daunting task at times, but I honestly and truly love it. It brings me so much joy, and I know that by learning the language I am doing something valuable and important. There are few people left who can speak Tlingit, and we are under a huge time crunch to start producing speakers because most of the fluent speakers left are elders. Studying and speaking Tlingit is what I will be doing for the rest of my life, and I would like to become a teacher of the language. I also love knitting, crocheting, beading, making jewelry, and recently have begun to learn sewing and quilting. I have a nasty habit of taking up far too many hobbies.
What do people know you for? I’m known for being sarcastic and funny, as well as kind and caring. I have also been told that I’m stubborn and opinionated. I’m known as a Tlingit language student and an activist for Native languages and cultures. People usually notice my long black hair, big earrings, and well-polished nails. I love to sing soulful music, and I collect far more books than I have time to read.
Thoughts on Juneau? Juneau has always been home to me. While other people my age were pining to get out of town as quickly as possible upon graduation, I was planning an entire life here. For me, living in another place has always been unfathomable, especially now that I’ve become so connected to the language and community here. This is just the best place for me to be as I continue to study Tlingit. I love the rain, but hate the snow. I love being surrounded by the mountains and trees and ocean. I love the community and small town environment. Juneau is immersed in incredible cultures that span thousands of years. There are elders here who could tell you stories that have been passed down for generations, and that is truly incredible.
I travelled for 30 hours by ferry from Prince Rupert, a town on BC’s north coast, to Juneau, the state capital of Alaska. I was only in Juneau for a couple of days, and in that period I managed to find a few people who agreed to be part of the World People Project, Stephanie being one of them. I met her in her family’s store, The Trading Post, which is a feast for the eyes, brimming with aboriginal art. I photographed Stephanie in front of Juneau City Hall where there is a colourful mural by Bill Ray showing a Tlingit creation story.
Conversation & Portrait by Tallulah
June 2014, Juneau, Alaska, USA
Published on November, 2015