In its largest group of fellowship awards to date, United States Artists has announced that 60 artists across 10 creative disciplines will receive unrestricted, $50,000 cash awards in 2021.

One of the awardees is an Alaskan, Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan. Jackson, a Tlingit master artist, already has many honors to his name including Rasmuson Foundation’s 2009 Distinguished Artist Award.

Nathan Jackson is seen on on the shores of the Chilkat River. Describing a near drowning accident during one his hunting trips, Jackson says he was “baptized in the Chilkat River.” He says his faith helped him survive not only the boating accident but other difficult times in his life. (Photos by Kyle Seago / Magnetic North Productions)

Nathan Jackson is considered one of the founders of contemporary Northwest Coast art. He has studied museum collections, helped to preserve traditions and provided direction for the growth and evolution of this art. He is a traditional dancer, master wood carver, metal smith and creative artist. He is among the most important living Alaska Native artists, revitalizing traditional totem carving and inspiring a new generation of Indigenous and non-Native artists.

Jackson was selected as one of the original six Alaskans featured in “Magnetic North: The Alaskan Character,” a documentary series produced by the Alaska Humanities Forum in partnership with Rasmuson Foundation.

“He’s not just a mentor for art, he’s a mentor for life,” is how carver Robert Mills put it in “Magnetic North: Nathan Jackson.”

By understanding and explaining the deeper meanings in traditional Northwest Coast art, Jackson has changed beliefs and boosted the confidence of Alaska Native artists, said Rosita Worl, president of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Jackson serves on Sealaska’s Native Artists Committee.

Nathan Jackson stands in the arch of a traditional totem he carved for Saxman Village near Ketchikan; he can often be found at the carving shed at Saxman Village. Jackson is credited with helping revitalize traditional Tlingit carving.

Jackson previously received a National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest award in folk and traditional arts, from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities as a “national treasure.” His work is featured at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., The Burke Museum in Seattle, The Field Museum in Chicago, Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, and numerous other national and international institutions.

Rasmuson Foundation is one of the founders of United States Artists, which has provided direct financial support to artists across the country since 2006.

In addition to Jackson, 15 Alaska artists have received a U.S. Artist fellowship.

See more of Jackson’s work in this gallery of Distinguished Artists.

Watch “Magnetic North: Nathan Jackson” here: