Bill Kuhnley was born in 1967 in Seattle, Washington, and soon after the family relocated to the western shore of Vancouver Island. He is a member of the Ditidaht tribe of the Nuu-chah-nulth nation. He grew up surrounded by carving produced by his parents, William and Josephine Kuhnley. He began carving at the age of thirteen. He left school at sixteen to work in his parents cedar salvage business and spent the next seven years working in the bush. He began carving seriously in 1991 and was offered a position the same year with the Duncan Heritage Center in Duncan, B.C.
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