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Louis Minard
Louis Minard

Louis Minard was interviewed on December 8, 1999 by Kristen Griffin and Karen Brewster at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska. At the time of the interview, Louis was eighty-four years old, had a broad face, and wore thick smoke-tinted glasses which shaded his eyes. He was about 5' 4" tall and walked assisted by two aluminum crutches, since rheumatoid arthritis and two hip replacement surgeries made it difficult for him to walk. After over twenty years of talking to Sitka National Historical Park visitors about his carving, he was comfortable with public speaking and the interview setting. He spoke thoughtfully and with determination, and his straight-forward answers to questions made it clear that he had thought about and discussed these topics before. He told stories with the emphasis and suspense of a good performer. Louis took a break from cutting a fine-lined design in a gold bracelet he was making to talk to us. In preperation for our interview, he took the magnifier lens off his glasses, turned off the bright, swing-arm lamp over his work area, and pulled off his work apron and hung it over his bench. We also turned off the small electric space heater at his feet to keep its noise off the recording. In this interview, Louis sat in his high-legged chair behind his workbench and talked about how he got involved with silver carving, who his teachers were, the importance of knowing history, and his long association with the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center as an artist, tradition bearer, and educator. He also talks about the Killer Whale Clan House origin story, the importance of the Cultural Center for Native artists, and receiving the Governor's Award for the Arts.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-39-14

Project: Sitka National Historical Park
Date of Interview: Dec 8, 1999
Narrator(s): Louis Minard
Interviewer(s): Kristen Griffin, Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Introduction and personal background

2) His employment and military service history

3) Learning silver carving, engraving, and silversmithing

4) Becoming a better engraver and teaching classes

5) Silver carving students Dave Galanin and his son Nick

6) History of Tlingit silver carving

7) Story of how the Tlingit got into metal smithing continued

8) Story of how the Tlingit got into metal smithing continued

9) Story of how the Tlingit got into metal smithing continued

10) Silversmiths and making bracelets

11) Silver carving tools and learning how to make them

12) Andrew P. (A.P.) Johnson carving a copper bracelet, and learning how to make tools

13) Sailing vessels coming and trading for furs and Native people getting iron from the vessels

14) The Cultural Center's legacy to the art world

15) Telling a story about the origin of the Killer Whale Clan

16) Killer Whale Clan House origin story continued

17) Killer Whale Clan House origin story continued, and clan ownership of crest origin stories

18) Importance of the Cultural Center to the Tlingit people

19) Working at the Cultural Center

20) Working at the Cultural Center continued

21) Working at the Cultural Center continued

22) Teaching Cultural Center visitors about Tlingit history and art

23) Receiving the Governor's Award for the Arts in 1996

24) Receiving the Governor's Award for the Arts continued

25) Receiving the Governor's Award for the Arts continued

26) Reception in Sitka after receiving the Governor's Award

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Kake/ Petersburg/ Sheldon Jackson/ Sitka/ Whitmark, Lawrence -- uncle/ Sitka Bay/ Sheldon Jackson -- athletic programs/ Park -- playground/ Park -- taking care of|

Section 2: work -- fishing/ Armed Forces -- induction/ Aleutian Islands -- stationed/ Army -- discharged/ Technical Sergeant -- rank/ Sitka -- return to/ work -- Bureau of Indian Affairs/ work -- hospital/ arthritis/ retirement/ hip replacement/ carving -- learning/ James, Ed -- taught engraving|

Section 3: silver carving -- learning/ James, Ed/ Johnson, A.P./ Sheldon Jackson College/ Park Service/ tuition -- paid for/ Tlingit -- speaking in/ jewelry making/ Holms, Bill/ Northwest Coast Indian Art -- learning about/ Brown, Steve/ classes -- Northwest Coast Indian Art|

Section 4: classes -- teaching/ James, Ed/ classes -- night/ Burkhart, Will/ Denise -- daughter/ tool making/ blacksmithing/ tools -- tempering/ engraving tools -- making/ Galanin, Dave|

Section 5: silver carving -- teaching/ silver carving -- learning/ Galanin, Dave/ Galanin, Nick|

Section 6: metals -- working with/ story -- Tlingit/ metal smithing -- origins/ ? Native clan/ Chilkat/ St. Elias Range/ ?, Silas/ ?, Louis/ journey -- northward/ Yakatat Bay/ ice field -- mouth of bay|

Section 7: story -- Tlingit/ metalsmithing -- origins/ Katella/ beach/ timber/ jade axe/ iron spikes/ leader -- uncle of men/ Eagle Head/ objects -- value/ journey -- northward/ men -- rebellious/ Copper River -- estuary/ White River/ Eyaks|

Section 8: copper -- heating/ Eagle Head/ walrus tusks/ Alsek River/ Chilkat/ Prince of Wales Island/ Puget Sound/ Kodiak Island/ Tlingit/ Haida/ Spaniards/ iron -- worked/ timber -- burnt/ tools -- making|

Section 9: Chilkat/ Klukwan/ canoe/ iron spike/ blade -- forged/ carver -- elderly/ ivory tusk -- carved/ blade/ ghost -- courageous wanderer/ University Museum/ trade/ coin -- silver/ Spaniards/ coins -- heat and hammer/ Tlingit/ Haida/ crest images|

Section 10: Sitka/ silver -- hammering/ Walton, Jim Rudolph/ Michael, John/ Lewis Sr., George/ bracelets -- silver/ bracelets -- gold/ Sheldon Jackson Museum/ Walton, Jim Rudolph -- daughters/ bracelets -- donation|

Section 11: tools -- tempering/ nails -- iron/ tools -- three cornered/ Johnson, A.P./ Sheldon Jackson School/ Sitka Industrial Trading School/ Walton, Rudolph -- A.P. Johnson's uncle/ Germany/ Tiffany's -- worked for|

Section 12: Johnson, Andrew/ copper -- practicing with/ toolmaking -- learning/ Bureau of Indian Affairs/ Navajo/ Sitka/ high speed tools -- access to|

Section 13: ships -- trade with/ trade -- fur/ iron -- stolen/ Johnson, A.P./ toolmaking/ files -- use of|

Section 14: Cultural Center/ Northwest Coast art/ Johnson, A.P. -- instructor/ totem pole -- carvers/ carving -- bracelets/ Tlingit culture/ art form -- no oral record of/ Peck, Cyrus/ Davis, Henry -- school teacher/ Cultural Center -- work at|

Section 15: Davis, Henry/ instructor -- knowledge needed/ Stikine River/ Ice Age/ ice field/ goat trail/ estuary -- Stikine River/ flood/ drum/ killer whale design/ flood -- fleeing inland/ Taku River/ coast -- return to/ wolf crest/ Admiralty Island/ Pybus Bay|

Section 16: families -- moved/ Chatham Strait/ Chaik Bay/ copper -- throw overboard/ clan -- Dakl'aweidi/ clan -- leader/ sea lion/ Necker Bay/ sea lion -- rookery/ supplies -- packing/ affair/ taboo/ brothers -- killed man woman had hidden/ families -- fought over incident/ elder -- stopped feuding|

Section 17: family -- moved/ ancestors/ Saginaw Bay/ Dakl'aweidi/ ownership -- rights/ Chiak Bay/ crest -- use of/ crest -- Smith Killer Whale/ oral history -- learning/ history -- importance of knowing for carving/ crest -- origin stories/ stories -- clan ownership of/ crest origin story -- only know for own clan/ potlatches/ storytelling -- entertainment/ origin stories -- disappointed not learn other clans' stories|

Section 18: carver -- metal/ tools -- making/ tools -- temper/ hook knives/ metals -- interest/ precious metals -- engrave|

Section 19: work -- Cultural Center/ work -- summer/ visitors -- learning to communicate with/ work -- winter/ work -- wages/ Cultural Center -- visitors/ Hays, Ellen/ work -- demonstration|

Section 20: work -- Cultural Center/ Cultural Center -- visitors/ visitors -- questions/ Tlingit -- metalsmithing/ Tlingit -- art forms/ pictographs/ visitors -- talking with/ storytelling/ visitors -- donations/ visitors -- winter/ National Park Service -- rangers|

Section 21: work -- Cultural Center/ Cultural Center -- visitors/ visitors -- questions/ summer season/ bus drivers -- interpretaion/ Alaska Airlines/ storytelling -- life story/ visitors -- enjoyment|

Section 22: work -- Cultural Center/ Cultural Center -- visitors/ clans -- learning about/ Northwest Coast art/ Tlingit -- origins/ clan -- origins/ stories -- clan ownership of/ origin story -- only know for own clan|

Section 23: Galanin, David/ Cultural Center -- Board of Directors President/ Governor's Award for the Arts -- invitation from/ Wasserman, Kathi/ Cultural Center -- Director/ Jimmy, Irene/ Laws, Marie/ Juneau/ SeaAlaska Corporation/ Cultural Center -- funding| Click here for image.

Section 24: Governor's Award for the Arts -- receiving/ Federal Building/ Grussendorf, Ben -- State Representative for Sitka/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ House of Representatives -- introduction to/ Eskimo/ Athabascan/ Cultural Center -- history of/ State Senate -- introduction to/ Taylor, Robin -- State Representative for Ketchikan| Click here for image.

Section 25: Governor's Award for the Arts-- reception/ Governor's Mansion/ media/ artists/ award -- seal head sculpture/ certificate -- expecting/ Governor Tony Knowles -- introduction by and talking to| Click here for image.

Section 26: Sitka/ Governor's Award -- reception/ Cultural Center/ Award -- talked about it/ Governor's Award for the Arts -- photos of|