Native artist, musician Archie Cavanaugh dead at 67



Archie Cavanaugh, Tlingit Raven from the G̱aanax̱teidí clan of the Xíxch’I Hít (Frog House) in Klukwan, has died, it was reported by the Sealaska Heritage Institute. He was 67.

Cavanaugh was a gifted jazz musician with three compact disc albums.

He recruited and played jazz with the late Jim Pepper, another legendary Native American musician who made the music scene in Alaska in the 1970s with his smooth saxophone and his classic song Witchi Tai To.

Cavanaugh was also an artist in the Tlingit tradition.

In 2012, federal agents fined Cavanaugh $2,000 for including raven and flicker (woodpecker) feathers on a hat and headdress for sale.

The agents confiscated the feathers, as well as a rifle that Cavanaugh had inherited from his father, which he used for hunting game. Flicker and ravens are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty and Lacey Act, which ban the sale of some bird parts.

Sealaska Heritage Institute has been working with the Alaska delegation in D.C. to amend the federal laws and include protections for Native Artists who have historically worked with bird feathers. Congressman Don Young introduced a bill that was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee in April to amend the Fish and Wildlife laws. The institute hopes to restore the feathers seized by federal agents to the headdress crafted by Cavanaugh.

On Cavanaugh’s father’s side, he was a Was’ineidí yádi (child of the Was’ineidí clan). He had three Tlingit names: Shaas Táak, given to him by his late great uncle, Harold Donnelly of Sitka, and Shkein and Ldaagoohaa, adopted names given to him by the Ḵaach.ádi clan in Kake. He was born in Wrangell and raised in Kake.


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