Derek White was born in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia on August 25th, 1965 and he has resided in Old Masset, a traditional Haida village for his entire life.
His father, Morris White, was Chief of the Edinsu (Edenshaw) Eagle clan of Kiusta until his death in 1997. Morris White’s father, Geoffrey White, was the grandson of the master Haida carver, Charles Edenshaw. Morris White chose to leave fishing as a livelihood early in life to concentrate on carving argillite, precious metals and wood, of which very few at the time were practicing artists on a full time basis. Derek began carving after high school as well some carpentry on local projects. His father was in the process of building a carving shed to carve canoes and Derek assisted with the construction and later with the canoe carving.
Derek witnessed Robert Davidson’s raising of the first totem pole in Masset in over one hundred years in 1969 on a site next to the White family home. Since that the time, there has been a great resurgence in cultural events in Masset and Derek has attended every one. He has been the assistant to Jim Hart on several projects including a private commission for a totem pole in San Francisco that was carved on location; the Hart residence in Masset which is crafted in the style of a traditional longhouse and includes the Edenshaw Memorial pole in front of the house; the “Frog Constellation,” a monumental sculpture exhibited for two years at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology and then donated to the University of Victoria, and numerous totem pole projects. He was also part of the carving team along with his brothers Christian White and Todd White on the Chief Edenshaw House Frontal pole in 1995.
In 2000, Derek worked with Tim Boyko on one of the six totem poles commissioned by the Qay’llnagaay Heritage Centre Society for the entrance to the Qay’llnagaay Museum in Skidegate and raised in a seven-day celebration in the summer of 2001.
© 2002 Spirit Wrestler Gallery