Lillian "Shoonie" Sheakley

Lillian "Shoonie" Sheakley wears a headdress that was her grandmother's, Ida Kadashan. It was created by her grandfather, David Kadashan.

Lillian “Shoonie” Sheakley

Lillian “Shoonie” Sheakley, Tlingit name Hux,'aw du oo, clan Shungukeidí, Kaawdiyaayi House Hít (Lowered From The Sky House) was born in 1950 and grew up in Hoonah.  Her mother was Anita Osborne Lafferty and her father was Warren Sheakley.  She said of her father “He had a cruise boat and would take us to Glacier Bay to get seagull eggs.  He was always busy and raised us right.  He loved holidays and would decorate the house.  He played Santa Claus even when he was sick.”  Warren Sheakley was a boat captain of the FV Ralph II, worked in a cannery, ran an oil company and owned a “show hall”, or movie theater in Hoonah.  He helped the community by sharing food- mostly fish- with those who were in need.  Shoonie remembers her mother, Anita as a hard worker, making dresses for school and bridesmaids and baking wedding cakes.  “I watched her make her last dress, it was for a wedding.  The bride sent in her measurements and Mom made the dress; it was a perfect fit.”  Anita Sheakley moved to Juneau and worked at the Capital City Cleaners where she did alterations, and Percy’s Café where she baked and made wedding cakes and ice cream. 

Shoonie began working when she was 11 years old.  She used to babysit for Leona and Norman Williams.  She loved growing up in Hoonah.  “I remember some times in winter it was so icy we couldn’t get home for lunch, we would almost make it, but then just slide downhill.  Sometimes the river would overflow and it was too deep, but there was a rope swing and we would just swing across the river, eat lunch at home, then swing back to return to school.”  She loved decorating the community tree on Christmas.  “We had a big backyard.  Dad made us a swing set and we played basketball.  We had a boat in the yard that we would fill with water and play in, and a two person bike to ride, and an old ringer washer.  Once I got my hair stuck in it and couldn’t get it out.  After that, we got an electric washer!” 

Shoonie moved to Seattle in 1972 where she worked in a school and was a receptionist at church.  Then she got a job with the Seattle Indian Employment Center.  “I met lots of Alaskans there.  We talked about organizing a dance group, so I created a sign-up sheet.  Lots of people were interested.  We called ourselves the Alaska Heritage Dancers.  Pedro Barril from Sitka knew the songs so we learned from him.  Verna Erickson knew how to drum.  She had to move back to Haines and so she taught me.  It was really fun.”  In 1985 Shoonie moved to Juneau.  She’s had many jobs, including waitressing at the Viking when it served food, the Travel Lodge and the New York Tavern.  She also drove a cab.  “I worked 12 hour shifts.  It was fun to talk to people.  I made $300 my first day!”

She has nine children, including a set of twins.  She’s been to every Clan Workshop and her nieces know the clan songs- “they learned them from my mother.”  She loves Hoonah and would like to move back.  “It’s so relaxing.  You can just sit back, have coffee, visit friends.  And the culture, beading, making baskets… I enjoy it.  I feel more culturally involved there.”