“My traditional chieftain name is Gi-Gamie Kin-Kwus. It was recently given to me, at my young age, because of the passing of my uncle who was the chief. Because my blood comes from two sides — Lek-Kwil-Taich (Kwakwaka’wakw) and Haida — I’ve got the right to work in these two art styles. I feel privileged that I’m allowed to do that and I think my artwork reflects that….”
“Most of my inspiration comes from knowing my family stories. I also help out other families who want to have their stories on art. They share their story with me so I can put it on a bracelet or a pendant. When I make jewelry for commercial reasons, it relates to the same thing. It feels good that I can do a piece of jewelry that can relate to somebody’s own ways. Maybe I can help somebody express their love more visually, or help get someone recognition where they should be recognized….”
“I want to build on to what I know. I want to take jewelry to another level of excellence. My mother, in her generation, was deprived of traditional knowledge. But I can see emotions beginning to come up; she’s walking around with more pride. Now she can say, ‘That’s my son. He’s the chief of our family now. Look at this piece he made for me.’ You can see the pride beginning to go back to where it belongs, and helping the healing begin for my family and my people.”
Excerpt from “Totems to Turquoise”, American Museum of Natural History, 2004. Kari Chalker, general editor.
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