Paul Wilson

IClarissa Hudson demonstrates Chilkat spinning techniques to children at the Smithsonian's NMAI Museum show of "Listening to Our Ancestors" Exhibit, November 2006Clarissa Hudson demonstrates Chilkat spinning techniques to children at the Smithsonian's NMAI Museum show of "Listening to Our Ancestors" Exhibit, November 2006
Tlingit Chief, dancer and native dance regalia maker Harry K. Bremner, Sr. and Clarissa Hudson at the Yakutat, Alaska airport in 1975 In 2001, Clarissa Rizal weaves a Raven Chilkat robe for Anne Gould-Hauberg (co-founder of the Pilchuck School of Glass in Washington State).

 

 

 


November 22, 1933 – October 26, 2008


During the Summer of 2007, Wayne Price had asked me to join him to form a 4-member Native dance troupe to perform at New York City's Gustav Heye Center as part of a Northwest Coast Native art exhibit opening in September 07. We called ourselves the North Tide Native Dancers. Wayne felt the songs and dance uplifted his spirit and he wanted to share that spirit with the community, so when we retruned to Haines, Wayne felt he must continue the dance group. I encouraged him to contact Tom Jimmie, Jr., and recruit folks of all ages, especially the elders.

 

Paul and I met in June 2008 at Wayne and Cherri Price's house. Wayne and Cherri had been hosting twice-weekly Native dance practice in their home since February. Paul, and his gracious wife Marilyn, were two of the elders. During the dinner break after the practice, Paul and I spoke of his recent involvement in returning back to the culture by way of the songs and dances he was learning through North Tide's leaders Wayne Price, Tom Jimmie, Jr. and Tim Ackerman. As Paul spoke, I felt a sincere gentle kindness in his spirit - a spirit we imagine that will always preside through the dance troupe of North Tide.

Mayor Jan Hill said that Paul Wilson Jr.’s passing is a loss for the community (of Haines, Alaska). The good-natured Tlingit elder and lifetime Alaska Native Brotherhood member brought enthusiasm to dance groups and was, according to family and clan leadership, the “true last survivor” of the Kooshda hit, or Otter House formerly of Tanani Point. “He was one of the few people that had recollections of the Tanani Village out by the tank farm” Hill said “that knowledge was invaluable.”

Wilson died early Sunday morning at Providence Hospital in Anchorage of pneumonia, with his family by his side. He was 74 years old.

Wilson’s Tlingit name was Kaadashaan; he was a member of the Raven House, and from the Gaaw hit, or Drum House, in Klukwan. Wilson also served on the Chilkat Indian Association Tribal Council and was a supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

He was born in Skagway on November 22, 1933 to Paul Wilson Sr. of Gaaw hit or Drum House in Klukwan and Nancy Dennis Wilson of Chilkoot. His father worked on the rainroad and fished commercially. He was raised there and in Haines. He enlisted in the Army in 1953 and son Duane Wilson says “was on his way to Korea when the war ended.” He was a member of American Legion Post #13.

He married Marilyn R. Wright on November 21, 1956 in Skagway, and they raised their family in Haines where Wilson worked as a longshoreman and fished commercially on the Averill Jeanne. He was also an ironworker, and worked in Valdex on the Trans Alaska oil pipeline.

Wilson served as president of ANB Camp #5 numerous times and was a repeat ANB convention delegate. Haines ANB President Ray Dennis said Wilson joined during the struggles for Native land claims. He will remember him most for his generosity. “He often gave away things that he needed, like the last of his personal foods, the fish his sons prepared for him. That’s the way he was,” Dennis said.
Sonny Williams said you never left Wilson hungry, “Paul would make sure you ate with him, even if it was just pie or some fish,” he said.

Wilson was an advocate for sobriety, and a member of North Tide, an alcohol and drug-free dance group organized by Wayne Price. He brought his grandchildren to the practices and performed at a Road Recovery youth concert at the Chilkat Center. “We were always honored by his presence, the loss of every elder is a loss to all of us” Price said, adding that he’ll miss talking hunting with Wilson. “We had fun telling mountain goat stories; I really enjoyed his company, he had a good sense of humor and nice things to say.”

In addition to his wife Marilyn, his children, Stanley Wilson, Paul Kelly Wilson, LaVerne Bryant and Duane Wilson, as well as grandchildren Aaron, James, Joshua, Savanna, Bradley, and Saldie Wilson, and Lee Bryant, Mary Bryant Jones, and Polly Anna Bryant survive him.

A son, Bradley Vincent Wilson and four siblings, Richard Wilson, Fred Wilson, Florence Wilson Wright and Dorothy Wilson Jackson preceded him in death.

“My Grandpa was a very strong man, he was also the most loving and humble man I have ever known, I will miss him more than words could ever express” Mary Jones said.

There was a viewing 2:00-4:00pm Sunday, November 2, 2008 at the Raven House; and a funeral at 1:00pm Monday, November 3, 2008 at the Haines ANB Hall. The 40-day Party was December 20, 2008. A Koo.eex (Pay-off Party) is tentatively scheduled for November 21, 2009.

“We will miss you dearly. We love you, and will see you when God calls us home.”
Love, Marilyn “My Juice”, Duke and Buddy, family and friends!

 

 

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