Toni Helmer

Antoinette Helmer (1946-2013) was a Kaigani Haida from the Prince of Wales Islands in Southeast Alaska. She learned to weave cedar bark and spruce root from her sister-in-law’s sister-in-law, Nancy Burgess, in 1991. When she first tried Ravenstail, it was like an old friend coming back. Her Ravenstail weavings were based on her Haida weaving. She learned Ravenstail from Cheryl Samuel’s video, but had to adapt Cheryl’s technique to her Haida weaving to produce weavings that she could call Haida.

Toni’s principal crests were Eagle/Frog/Beaver. She also made traditional Haida blankets, hats and earrings made with red and yellow cedar bark or spruce roots. The fur used in her weavings honored the animal’s spirit and came from animals hunted for over-population.

Toni lived with her husband Dan, who is Haida from the Queen Charlotte Islands, in the Seattle area for many years until her passing in 2013.