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PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE PURSUES PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AT 2011 SOCIETY OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGIST (SVP) MEETING IN LAS VEGAS, UTAH, USA



DINOSAUR TRACK JUBILEE! The Early Jurassic rocks in and near St. George, Utah, have some of the world’s best-preserved dinosaur tracks. Once Paleontologist Barbie heard that the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) was sponsoring a field trip there, led by Andrew Milner, James Kirkland, and others, she knew this was the trip for her. “I love theropod tracks!” she said, while sitting in one. Her legs are on the digit III impression, and her arms are just above digits II and IV of this three-toed track, made by a large carnivorous dinosaur. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
At the end of October 2011, when many young professional women were donning Halloween costumes for a night filled with revelry, Paleontologist Barbie was already on the second day of a Society of Vertebrate Paleontology fieldtrip in southern Utah and northern Arizona, deepening her understanding of dinosaur tracks. On her return to Atlanta, Georgia, with my Chiboogamoo, I urged her to talk to me about what she had learned on the 2011 SVP fieldtrip and about the virtues of professional development.

HALLELUJAH:  First of all, can you explain what Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is and why you are a member.

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Sure. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, also known as SVP, is a great, fun organization filled with people who love fossils of animals that have backbones. I am a member because I enjoy being around a lot of other paleontologists and the SVP meetings, and it gives everyone the chance to be together and do nothing except talk about paleontology. It is a blast.

HALLELUJAH: It is well known that there is a group that gets together informally to celebrate you at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meetings.  Why is that?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I have heard about that group, too, and am very flattered by all of the attention. All I can think is that they really admire my enthusiasm for fossils and look up to me as a role model.

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE HAS AN EYE FOR DINO TRACKS. Sometimes dinosaur tracks are not preserved as depressions, like the one she just sat in, but instead are made as natural casts on the bottoms of sandstone beds. These are formed when sand fills in the depression, similar to how plaster casts are made. “There’s one!” Paleontologist Barbie exclaims, spotting a probable dinosaur track in the bottom of a sandstone bed. Not much gets past her, that’s for sure! (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH: Do you belong to any other professional organizations?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Well, because I have to know a lot of geology too, I belong to the Geological Society of America or GSA. Then there is the Paleontological Society, which I also belong to. People in that society study all fossils, not just vertebrates. I really like that organization, too.

HALLELUJAH: As a passionate ichnologist, do you fit in better in one professional paleontological organization more than others?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: That’s what is great about ichnology is that it belongs to all of the sciences.  I get to do geology, and all sorts of biology and paleontology when I study traces. Ichnology is really cool that way.

TIPS FROM PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE FOR “SEEING” DINO TRACKS. Paleontologist Barbie is thrilled to visit a newly discovered dinosaur tracksite in the Navajo Formation in southern Utah with more footprints made by theropod dinosaurs. Here she demonstrates the best way to view the tracks: up close and with her head held at an angle to get maximum contrast. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)




DETERMING THE SPEED OF A DINOSAUR—PALEO BARBIE KNOWS HOW! It worked! Using this method, she easily spots the next track in the distance. “Looks like we got ourselves a trackway. Let’s get out the measuring tape and figure out how fast it was going!” she says with her characteristic enthusiasm for quantitative methods. Using just a few measurements and some math (which she finds easy), you can figure out the approximate speed of the dinosaur trackmaker at this site(photo and caption by Anthony Martin) 






HALLELUJAH: Briefly summarize the 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology fieldtrip   you took.

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: It is was one of the best fieldtrips I have taken in years! I loved it. We got to see Triassic and Jurassic rocks from about 200 to 180 million years ago in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. These rocks have lots of fossils but especially dinosaur tracks.  I have never seen so many dinosaur tracks in one place.


HALLELUJAH: What were the paleontological highlights for you?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: In St. George, Utah, they have a museum, the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Center, where they have preserved the rock layers that have dinosaur tracks. One of the rock layers has the trace of where a dinosaur sat down, then got up, and walked away. It is so exciting to see a trace where a dinosaur took a break from life, relaxed a little bit, and then decided to move on. I can identify with that.
ESTIMATING DINOSAUR SIZE FROM DINO TRACK—PALEO BARBIE LOVES MATH. “Wow, nice anatomical detail on this one!” she states with much admiration. Indeed, it is a beautifully preserved natural cast of a theropod-dinosaur track, showing its toe pads, claw marks and skin impressions. “I suspect this dinosaur had a hip height of about 1.6 meters, based on its 40-centimeter length multiplied by a factor of 4,” she says nonchalantly, not wanting to show off her penchant for numbers too much. This specimen is on display at the: St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm (http://www.dinosite.org/). (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)

“TIME TO DO SOME MORE FIELD WORK!” Paleontologist Barbie loves going outside, and is very pleased to see some fantastic examples of physical sedimentary structures while out hiking along an outcrop of Jurassic sandstone. “Whoa – nice cross-bedding!”, she shouts gleefully. These angled layers of sandstone formed from either wind or water currents moving and depositing sand, either as ripples or dunes. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)


HALLELUJAH: What was the most fun moment during your fieldtrip?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: When I was at the St. George Discovery Center, where we were having dinner, I ran into a reproduction of Dilophosaurus, a local dinosaur responsible for some of the tracks I had been examining. He was the perfect height for dancing, and let’s just say we made our own tracks together!
PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE DANCES WITH A DINOSAUR. After three days on the field trip Paleontologist Barbie finally meets one of the trackmakers, Dilophosaurus. “How cool – you’re one of my favorite dinosaurs! Would you like to dance?” she asks cordially. Of course, when Paleontologist Barbie dances, she always leads. And that’s because she’s a natural-born leader. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH: What was your best find?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Wow! That was really exciting! I was at a Jurassic outcrop with your husband Chiboogamoo. We were scanning the strata for any fossils that might there when we both spotted a huge dinosaur track. It turned out to be the oldest large dinosaur track (Eubrontes) found in that area.
PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE MAKES A DISCOVERY! Back in the field again and at the last stop of the field trip, Paleontologist Barbie, along with her colleague CHIBOOGAMOO, discovers the oldest large theropod-dinosaur track (called Eubrontes) in this part of Utah. “Discoveries are the currency of science, and I’m cashing in!” she says. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)


HALLELUJAH: At these meetings, who do you get starry-eyed over?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I love seeing all the women paleontologists at the meetings! They are smart, confident, and are providing great role models for future scientists! Remember the saying on the box that I came in? “We girls can do anything”!
ICHNO-FASHION AMONG WOMEN PALEONTOLOGIST. Paleontologist Annette Richter, visiting all of the way from Germany to see the dinosaur tracks of southern Utah and northern Arizona, shows off the latest in dinosaur-track inspired fashion, with her dualistic and monochromatic rendering of theropod-dinosaur tracks. Between their knowledge of dinosaur tracks and enthusiasm, Paleontologist Barbie was very excited to meet so many other women paleontologists who share her passion for fossils. (Photo scale in centimeters, and photo taken by Anthony Martin; owner of hand is unknown.)

HALLELUJAH: I know that you love to speak about all things paleontological, did you present at this 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Not at this meeting, but I have some exciting things in the works.

HALLELUJAH: What tips can you give to deliver a top-notch paleontological presentation?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: First of all—enthusiasm with a capital “E!” You’d better show the audience you enjoy what you are doing. Number two—stage presence. That means connecting with the audience and doing everything you can to make your research interesting. And number three—good posture! Some times people say I'm a little too stiff, but when I'm presenting, I'm totally flexible.
A NATURAL SPEAKER—PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE. Once in the museum, though, Paleontologist Barbie cannot help but share her extensive knowledge about dinosaur tracks with some of the other field-trip participants by giving an impromptu PowerPoint presentation. “As you can clearly see from the divarication angle between digits II and IV, as well as the length:width ratio and qualitative traits, this is a theropod-dinosaur track,” she says confidently. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
EMPATHETIC WITH THE FOSSIL PAST. Following the lecture - which was very well received by her peers – Paleontologist Barbie decides to go for a swim, metaphorically speaking. The Jurassic rocks in St. George, Utah contain the greatest number of dinosaur swimming tracks in the world. These tracks, preserved as natural casts here, were made by theropod dinosaurs that touched their toes along the river or lake bottom while swimming with or against a current. “Wouldn’t it have been fun to swim with the dinosaurs?” she asks with genuine wonder. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
RELAXING WITH THE FOSSIL RECORD. Back in the museum and after a tough day in the field, Paleontologist Barbie gets in a little bit of relaxation in the museum. "There's something so comforting about large theropod-dinosaur tracks," she says while reclining fashionably next to a natural cast of one. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH: What will you be presenting in the future?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I really want to finish my research on reptile burrows and present that at the 2012 SVP meeting.

HALLELUJAH: The 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting convened in Las Vegas. In 10 words or less express your feelings about this gambling center of the USA.

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Probability theory says, don’t go there. You’ll waste your money.


HALLELUJAH: Do you gamble?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Only in that I take chances when I go into the field to look for fossils. But with money, no! I don’t need more money anyway, because I am not a material girl. I am a scientist, artist, and someone who loves the thrill of discovery!

HALLELUJAH: I know you are like me in that you can appreciate the beauty of any location that you find yourself in. Can you address the artistry of Las Vegas?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: It SOOO GARISH, truly awfully, and over the top. It is like a trilobite with too many frilly spines! Give me the rock formations in Zion National Park any day.

PALEONTOLOGIST VIEW OF LAS VEGAS.  Paleontologist Barbie, upon arriving at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, is momentarily puzzled. "Oú est Le Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle?" she asked the doorman, who looked blankly at her and became even more confused than her. photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE DOES NOT APPROVE OF HO-MADE PIES. (One of the motels where the paleontologists stayed during the field trip (just outside of Zion National Park) had a restaurant with an odd way of advertising one of their desserts. But perhaps this restaurant can place its next ad in Nature. Photo and caption by Anthony Martin.)


HALLELUJAH: What is the next professional step for you?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I just got back from a field trip on Sapelo Island on the Georgia coast, which is my third barrier island to conduct field work on. Next, I will go to Jekyll Island. I hope to go to all the Georgia Islands some day, because each one is unique. I like finding and experiencing the differences! And then at an international level, I’m really excited about Ichnia 2012, which is taking place in Newfoundland, Canada! There will be ichnologists from all around the world who will come together to chat about their latest discoveries!

HALLELUJAH: If you had dressed up for Halloween as did other Barbies in the geosciences, what would your costume have been?

PALELONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I probably would have gone as Mary Anning, one of the first great female paleontologists! Or, on a more abstract level, maybe I would have had fun designing a ghost shrimp burrow costume and going as a trace fossil. Now that's cool, because fossil ghost-shrimp burrows are used by geologists worldwide to show where an ancient shoreline was located.
MUDCRACK MADNESS. Other sedimentary structures that catch her keen eye are mudcracks. These formed when a muddy area, such as on a lakeshore or next to a river, first became wet, then dried out. Many of the dinosaur tracks in this area also seem to have started the mudcracks when the dinosaur stepped into a drying mud. “Sedimentary structures rock!”, says Paleontologist Barbie. (photo and caption by Anthony Martin)



PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE MAKES FOSSIL ART. Through the use of Photoshop™, Paleontologist Barbie took mudcracks radiating from a dinosaur track and fashioned it to look like paintings from one of her most favorite artists (after Hallelujah Truth, of course!) in the whole wide world, Cecelia Kane. See her blog, The Interwoven Heart(original photo by Anthony Martin)
PALEONTOLOGIST DOCUMENTING PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE.  Chiboogamoo and Paleontologist Barbie work as a team. At the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Center, Chiboogamoo documents his colleague swimming with the dinosaur swim traces. Photo by an anonymous donor who was on the SVP field trip.


Read previous Hallelujah Truth Interviews with Paleontologist Barbie:


Paleontologist Barbie's Passion for Modern and Ancient Traces
Paleontologist Barbie goes to St. Catherines Island to examine reptile burrows.


Paleontologist Barbie's Gleeful Discussion of Evolution, Darwin, and Science-Related Art
Paleontologist Barbie explains her understanding of evolution by looking at the "Selections" art exhibit at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia. Specifically, she provides her interpretation of the importance of art done by Chiboogamoo and Hallelujah Truth.


Paleontologist Barbie's Raison D'etre: Scientific Investigation and a Passion for Art!
This is the first interview with Paleontologist Barbie! It is a must read!






THANKSGIVING: GETTING CREATIVE IN THINKING ABOUT THE GREAT SPIRIT

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO THE GREAT SPIRIT IN ALL OF US.  These  outlines of turkeys were derived from my 2010 volunteer work with Bhutanese seniors at the Clarkston Community Center and then used with my creative writing class at the Georgia Tech Language Institute preceding the Thanksgiving holidays. (drawings by Hallelujah Truth)
Happy Thanksgiving Pilgrims! Hallelujah for the JOURNEY! I am so happy to be here with you all, seeing what we can declare about our OWN TRUTH! I believe in the power of each individual's creativity. I believe the ART each one of us  makes PULLS us FORWARD. Our own ART HEALS and CREATES MAGIC in our lives! Peter London, author of No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist Within, declares, "The prime work of art is to join heaven and earth!"
JOINING HEAVEN AND EARTH IN CREATIVE WRITING CLASS.  This photo captures the magic moment as students move from the teacher given assignment into the "mystery" of themselves. (photos by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter, Instructor of English as a Second Language at GT)

Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to jump into artmaking with my creative writing class. I wanted BIG THINGS to happen. Using construction and origami paper, pens, scissors, and glue, each student was asked to construct their own artistically rendered Thanksgiving turkey. To prevent complete and utter shutdowns (which occur when people who don't draw are asked to produce something from nothing), I provided some simple and fun drawings (above) as possible starting places.


After receiving the assignment and art making materials, the students paused. There were moments of inaction resulting in my worry that they might not move forward. Creative acts have their own timing and energy. Patience must be practiced to give each ARTIST the opportunity to determine his or her own direction.


After the moments of uncertainty passed, there was a flurry of activity. Pens and pencils were moving and paper began flying. I watched in awe as the students ascended into a whir of creativity!


After fifteen minutes had passed and the students were fully engaged in their creation of a Thanksgiving turkey, I talked to them about the writing part of this holiday assignment. I wanted them to practice writing from a different perspective and gave them three writing options:


OPTION 1: You are the GREAT TURKEY SPIRIT of THANKSGIVING. You are filled with beneficence and a sense of well-being! You want to express gratitude to all of humanity for the GOOD that people bring to this EARTH and one another.


OPTION 2: You are the TURKEY to be slaughtered for everyone's Thanksgiving dinner.  You want to express your feelings about being the food that feeds everyone on this day in the United States that we give THANKS. What are your last words before you die and your body nourishes the people who are giving THANKS?


OPTION 3: Your own idea written from the perspective of a TURKEY.


I have not seen the final results of this assignment yet. I asked students to post their artfully crafted turkey images and writing on the unique blog each one has developed for this creative writing class. I invite you to visit their blogs and see for yourself where this Thanksgiving holiday assignment has taken them on their creative journey!

EMBRACING MY INNER JACKSON POLLOCK


FULL EMPTY HAPPINESS


DREAMING WITH FREEDOM


HOPE IN THE DARK DESERT




SNAKE SLEEPING WITH LAVENDER




THE CHOCOLATE OF HAPPINESS


CREATORS OF THE GREAT TURKEY SPIRIT! In this photo, two other blog writers are represented: A SMILE AFTER THE RAIN and MY MOTHER'S LAP.



THE REWARDS OF TEACHING CREATIVITY ARE MANY! Here I am in the middle of happy students! Thanks to Vanessa for taking this photo!


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS (excerpted from Peter London's book, No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist Within

Suppose life is a journey, an endless, surprising odyssey in which we may move from naivete to wisdom, from self-consciousness and awkwardness to grace, and from superficial knowledge to profound wonder. The infinite menu of possibilities that life continuously displays before us may be viewed as an invitation to embark on this adventure through varied and unpredictable terrain. The artistic process is more than a collection of crafted things; it is more than the process of creating those things. It is the chance to encounter dimensions of our inner being and to discover deep, rewarding patterns of meaning.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:  Many thanks to my creative writing students for their willingness to embark on a creative adventure with me into the unknown terrains of their own creativity! Your gift of attention, action, and individual journey inspire me! Gracious thanks to fellow SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM, Karen Phillips, who in recent weeks has reminded me of Peter London's book, No More Secondhand Art!


THIS PILGRIM WAY

THANKSGIVING GUEST BLOG BY MELISSA TIDWELL

MELISSA TIDWELL, SPIRITUAL WRITER



Introduction by Hallelujah Truth  HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEK PILGRIMS! It is the time of year to openly express our gratitude about being here on this beautiful planet. It is also a very good time to address the question of PILGRIMAGE—OUR JOURNEY HERE NOW.

Hallelujah for finding fellow pilgrims while we pursue our own individual JOURNEYS! In the spring of 2010, I connected with the writer, Melissa Tidwell, at the Artist Conference Network (ACN) weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. During this weekend, we artists delve deeply into our hearts and minds and cultivate a vision statement to guide us in our work. At the completion of the ACN weekend, I knew I had met a soulmate. It is with great pleasure that I offer you Hallelujah’s first guest blog, THIS PILGRIM WAY, written by spiritual art pilgrim, Melissa Tidwell.

THIS PILGRIM WAY

Spiritual practices move us from one place to another, from our habitual stances of fear and reactivity into a longing to go deeper in the mystery. Some practices use stillness to do this, while other practices achieve the same thing with movement. Pilgrimage is a practice that is about moving our feet along a more or less fixed route so that our spirits can be set free to take in the holiness around us.

Going along these paths worn smooth by the feet of other pilgrims, we can see what they saw, breathe in the same air and stumble over the same rocks. Our process is unique to our experience but also part of a bigger pattern, tradition, history, some of which we can only guess at. And this seeing that we are not alone gives us courage to undertake the arduous parts of the journey, face the emptiness of the desert before us or in us.

This pilgrimage need not be formal, like the tradition of San Juan de Campostelo, following a path across Spain that thousands of pilgrims walk every year. A pilgrimage can be the walk through the year, tracing the path from season to season, watching the leaves turn or the butterflies arrive. Holidays are a lovely way to mark the passage of time, and most of us have a built-in calendar of personal holy days that we recognize as we tramp through the year. The anniversary of a loved one’s death can be one such marker, a day of remembrance. Other days can carry a lighter touch, as my own personal ritual for the opening day of baseball season is about more than the game but also about the eternal recurring hope that this is the year.

Some of our ritual observances can grow stale of course, especially those that are accompanied by commercialized excess. We can try to breathe new life into the old ways, invent new forms, refuse altogether to participate. But the art of being a pilgrim involves the continual putting of one foot after the other, of being exactly where we are, not skipping ahead to the end or sitting stuck by the side of the road.

In my family, there are certain foods that must be present at holiday meals, like special cake baked for Christmas, but more than anything the iron clad requirement that potato salad be served for every important gathering. Even at Christmas, when this summery picnic food seems in some ways wildly out of place. But we have to have it, and it has to be made to exacting specifications, down to a sort of ritual blessing that must be uttered when mixing it. At times it seems like so much trouble, but it is also a comfort and now I can’t imagine not having it. I have puzzled over it, wondered about its origins in our class and cultural context, poked around the edges of it as family myth and lore. It’s an oddity, a symbol, a sign, the sort of things pilgrims carry with them as a key to this deeper life we seek, rich with the past and the heart of always becoming.

What is your pilgrim path about? What clues or tools do you carry with you? What special points along the way do you observe with ritual or special attention? If you aren’t sure, maybe it’s time to begin seeing yourself as a pilgrim, being attentive to the path, and marking the way with little feasts of joy and remembrance.
“I’m curious and hopeful at every bend.” -Melissa Tidwell
photos by Halllelujah Truth

ABOUT MELISSA TIDWELL, SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM
Melissa Tidwell, a spiritually focused writer, was born in Augsburg, Germany, and grew up on military bases around the world. After residing in Nashville for more than a decade, Melissa “pilgrimed” her way to Atlanta in 2010.  Currently, she is seeking a publisher for her spiritual memoir, How Janis Saved Me.

In response to my question, “Who are you spiritually?,” Melissa responded thoughtfully, “My spiritual pilgrimage at times has been a process of fleeing from an oppressive orthodoxy towards a wider understanding of the spirit. Curiously, the path seems to be leading me in some ways right back to where I started.”





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Christmas Sale on Native American Jewelry

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

If you are in Santa Fe during November 26 & 27, mark your calendar for this SWAIA Event. If not, check out the Native American art websites at Native-American-Jewelry.org, Native-PotteryLink.com and ZuniLink.com


2011 Santa Fe
Winter Indian Market




JoyHarjo
Joy Harjo

Beautiful Artwork and Jewlery for Sale
Artist Demonstrators
Silent Auction
Two Performanaces by Joy Harjo
Raffle Prizes
Fashion Row

Native 101 Lecture



Early Bird Shopping and Native Art 101 Lecture
SWAIA Members Only

Saturday, November 26. 9:00 a.m.
Admission is $5 with a SWAIA Membership
For information on becoming a SWAIA Member, call Denise Keron
(505) 983-5220

Winter Indian Market Hours
Saturday, November 26, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (General Admission)
Sunday, November 27, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (General Admission)

General Admission is $5 Per Day
Tickets Available at the Door

Tickets and Performance Times for Joy Harjo
$20

Includes Admission into Winter Indian Market
Saturday, November 26, 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 27, 1:00 p.m.
Advance Tickets Available (505) 983-5220

All events will take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center
(201 W. Marcy St. Santa Fe, NM 87501)


Artist Demonstrators


Award Winning Metalsmith
Kenneth Johnson (Muscogee/Seminole) Jeweler

2011 SWAIA Best of Show Winner
Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) Basket Weaver

2011 Best of Classification Winner, Pottery
Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo) Potter

2011 SWAIA Residency Fellowship Winner
Ryan Lee Smith (Cherokee/Choctaw) Painter

2011 SWAIA Residency Fellowship Winner
Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas (Haida) Weaver