Nestled on the western shore of Annette Island in Southeast Alaska sits the community of Metlakatla. While only a short float plane ride from Ketchikan, Metlakatla stands alone as both the only Indian Reservation in Alaska and the keeper of one of the richest and most vibrant Alaska Native Arts public education programs in the state.
In Metlakatla, traditional Tsimshian, Tlingit and Haida art is ubiquitous. Ravens, whales, and eagles boldly adorn the walls of public spaces and private homes with deeply contrasting reds, blacks, and whites. The history and culture of this place is palpable and nowhere is it more abundant than in John Hudson III’s classroom.
Blocks of wood, carving tools, and countless works of art occupy nearly every space in room 205 at Metlakatla High School. Each project represents the preservation of culture and the innovative instruction John is using to help an ancient tradition thrive in the 21st century. This picture comes into focus as his students work diligently to apply traditional designs to skateboards, shoes, and digital graphics.