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Jonathan Henderson

Jonathan Henderson

Kwakwaka’wakw

(1969- )


Johnathan Maxwell Henderson was born in Alert Bay, BC and is a member of the Campbell River Weiwaikum Band. Jonathan’s father, hereditary chief Dan Henderson, gave him the name Akh Akh yala gilis (“man standing on the beach with his mouth open”) when he was initiated as a Hamatsa dancer.

In 1999, Johnathan and his brother Sean Whonnock raised a 25-foot totem pole in Thunderbird Park, Victoria, BC. The crests honours both the Henderson and Whonnock families. The totem pole was dedicated to the Coast Salish people on behalf of the Kwakwala-speaking people.

In 2000, Johnathan moved to Alert Bay which allows him the opportunity to carve with family and fellow carvers as well as become more involved in the culture he was born into; learning more about the songs, dances and structure of what makes a potlatch.

“I have been carving for a living since 1994 and have strong beliefs in the richness and diversity of my culture. I will continue to carve with respect to the ways my father has taught me and with the proper protocol in the way things are to be done. I will do my best to preserve and restore what I can of my culture as I feel an obligation to make sure there will be something for my children and for future generations of the Kwakwala-speaking people. I must state that I do not yet know everything about my culture, but I know about what I carve and paint and what I represent. I feel that I am a suitable ambassador for my culture, yet a student of it for the rest of my life.”


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