Although women were not ordained in the Church of England until 1971, this did not prevent them from being a true force within the church. This was particularly true in the north.
When Julius Kendi was first assigned to Old Crow in 1929, his wife Persis was quick to organize the women of the community into the Women's Auxilliary. She had already formed a WA in Mayo when her husband was assigned there.
My uncle Julius Kendi came here in 1929. At that time his wife started the W.A. [Womens Auxiliary]. …This woman made all the women in Old Crow, W.A. members. The W.A. became very strong. Every Friday, we sewed. … There were lots of us, 20 women, 25 in W.A. They would all come and cook and eat while they sewed. Nowadays, it’s very different. … Now it’s really different living on this land. The Native work, it’s not all being done today. Only a few of them work with skins. …
(Ellen Bruce, 1980 VG2000-8-30:003-110 Gwich’in)
These sewers and artists continued this tradition well into the time that the Exhams were in Old Crow. Most of the wonderful pieces in the Exham collection came from the Old Crow Women's Auxiliary.
Not only did the women sew and cook, but they also took it upon themselves to maintain the church buildings and help prepare for services. Through sales of their sewing and organizing community functions, they also helped to support the church and resident minister.
In the early years of its formation, so many of the women of Old Crow belonged to the WA. It was a social force to be reckoned with.
Members of the Old Crow women auxiliary with Reverend and Mrs. Kirk (1930-1940s):Liza Ben Kassi, Myra Kaye, Mary Charlie, Clara Frost, MaggieItsi, Sarah Balaam, Unknown, Unknown, Margaret Blackfox, Myra Moses, Martha Kendi, Ellen Bruce, Unknown, Caroline Moses, Joanne Njootli, Persis Kendi, Rev. Julius Kendi
VG, Corporal Kirk Collection
Display of stoles, sewn by Martha Kendi.
Old Crow Women's Auxillary Collection