First Nations
Art (Canada)

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Norval Morisseau: Missipeshu and (on floating sidebar) Shaking-Tent--Lac Seul (Ontario) Ojibwe artist and writer Norval Morrisseau (b. 1931) played a key role in re-awakening cultural learning among both Canadian and Minnesota Anishinaabeg.

Drum Singers,Daphne Odjig (Beavon), Odawa,--from Wikwimenikong Reserve, Manitoulin Island. Daphne's silkscreen (the only picture by her I have right now) was chosen to be the logo for the First Nations page, because she had achieved a world-wide reputation as a painter and graphic designer by the 1970's, with everything from her amazing large tryptych in (whatever Ottawa museum it's in) to posters for El Al, Israeli airline. If I can find my notes, I'll write an essay on Daphne and the medicine painting style art revival at Manitoulin at the end of the 1960's, and link it sidebar here. For now, just a bigger one of Drum Spirit Singers.

Richard Corbiere, Manitoulin Island Wikwimenikong Odawa Reserve--Richard's mother is a well-known quilt maker. Richard makes a number of objects such as this interesting coyote mask where a smooth, white-clay painted face is surrounded by an actual coyote. He seems to be very much infuenced by BC northwest Coast styles, not Anishnaabeg.


INAC multipage Inuit sculpture illustratesd essay-- Reference material on history, leading artists by Arctic districts, illustrations of styles.

Whalebone carving-- Seated Figure, by Inuit Tommy Ashevak, b. 1931. Glenbow Art Museum.

Birds in Blue, Stonecut stencil, 1963--by Inuit Kenejuek Ashevak, Glenbow Art Museum.

Soapstone carving of ice fisherman--Harry Mitsima, Baffin Island . Inuit, Nunavut. Mitsima's carvings show people living the traditional way with the ancient survival technologies developed for the toughest place on earth. About this carving, he explains that the char the fisherman spears were used as a food stash in the old days by wrapping a row of them tightly in a fresh-killed walrus hide, then freezing them. These hard, shaped "fish rails" were used as sled runners. A hunter who had no luck could chop up his rails to feed himself and his sled dogs.

Glenbow Art: NATIVE & INUIT Art a very few examples shown.

Inuit Gallery of Vancouver--Commercial project of a well-established art gallery that deals in Inuit-Inupiat art. There is info about the artists, and pix of their beautiful work, in both traditional and modern styles, according to the artist's interests.

Arctic Photo Gallery--Black-and-white character portraits of Natives from Baffin island, NWT and other locations, by Jerry Riley. Color photos of events in daily life, and landscapes that verge on being art abstractions.


Jim Poitras, Metis -- has many pieces in Saskatchewan Museum. Especially noteworthy here is his Dancing Loon whose narrow neck and back echo the lines of the Qu'Appelle River Valley where his people ae from.

Cree and Dene Artists of North SaskatchewanAngie Campbell runs the gallery, featuring birch bark basketry of Ben Campbell

Cree painter Alan Sapp Not only beautiful, but very educational as to how Plains reserve life was until quite recently.

1895 Ledger drawing, Honñgeeyesa, Assininboine (Saskatchewan)--40 of these pencil and water-color drawings on ledger pages were collected by a 19th-century doctor and left to the Glenbow Art Museum (Alberta) by his family in the 1920's. There was no record of the artist's name, as with so much Indin art collected as curios. Recently the Glenbow mounted a travelling art show of the 40 ledger-page drawings, and the grandson of the artist saw it and identified his grandpa as the artist. This might happen more often with anonymous collected Indian art if it got out into the world where Indian people could see it -- maybe on the web?

Sundance Scene, Gerald Tailfeathers, Blood, 1906, Shows 3 ponies and riders by a tipi, don't know why this is called Sundance Scene. Glenbow.


U'Mista Cultural Centre Here's the beginnings of the story, as researched -- and in the case of some elders, and some involved in repatriations of the Government-stolen Potlach regalia/art -- lived -- by the Native people themselves. .

Spiritwrestler Gallery in Vancouver, B. C., excellent exhibits available online.

TOTEM POLES--Some background material on them by the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Cross-cultural note by Webmistress: "Totem Poles" is a misnomer a imposed on Northwest Coast (and Anishnabeg) peoples by anthros and other professional Indian experts. The totem, now more properly spelled "dodem" is an Anishnabeg cultural concept of great power. It bears no relationship to Northwst Coast family crests or faces used in their spirit-poles.

Roy Henry Vickers, Tsimishan--Vickers is a member of Lach Klan (Kitkatla), Tsimishan Nation. He is a well-known painter who has won many awards. The Canadian government chose paintings of his to present to the Queen, Pres. Clinton, and Gorbachev. It is too bad this gallery presents only small, muddy versions of 6 prints which are pretty expensive ($700) for just prints. Vickers writes interestingly about his spiritual inspiration for them, however. The gallery is an amateurish web page setup maintained by a computer company. Vickers should hire a web page designer, or design his own web pages.

Westward Studio Art --Canadian Aboriginal and Contemporary Paintings and Carvings, specializing in Northwest Coast. Gallery is located in Victoria, B.C. Artists tell about themselves, and explain their paintings or sculpture. An interesting feature of this gallery -- for PC users only -- is a downloadable program (1.4 megs, will take quite a while) that displays and manipulates about 50 images (all the artists now on display) and will let you make any of them into a Windows screen-saver. You will need PKUNZIP.EXE (freely-distributed) to unZIP this compressed file, which requires quite a lot of drive space.

Queneesh Gallery, Richard Krentz, Salish.--Gallery is named for a white whale which saved several coastal tribes when the angry Creator flooded the earth, and who now has become the Coxton Glacier. Limited edition prints of 6 marine animals, in northwest coast style. Krentz also makes beautiful jewelry in silver or (as shown for this whale pendant) expensive gold. Painted bentwood (kerfed) boxes are another of his specialties -- your jewelry (should you be able to afford some) will come in one. Prints are $100, the whale pendant's $300 (in silver), $1500 (in gold). There's also other jewelry, and Krentz offers interior design services.

Raven and Bear Spirit are photos of objects from the Dallas Museum of Art I found a big trove of Dallas Museum images on an obscure gopher nested deeply in the public portion of the Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) subscription server, but now that subdirectory is empty except for European art images.

Raven appears to be a stone carving of a man and his bird-spirit or family crest. The raven's eye is abalone, but the carving might be bone or wood for all anyone can tell from the photo. The museum says "Haida (?)", no date.

Bear Spirit Dream--The Dallas Museum identifies this as a bear mask, which it obviously isn't, it looks like the dream-catchers most of us know about (Anishinabeg word for a cradle-charm spider-web was "AH-suhbikeshin" from asuhb, net) or even have. The carved wooden bear-face is mounted on a slice of tree-trunk, and the feathers on 4 sections of hollowed-out branches -- dreams will surely be caught in this powerful wooden web, good ones to keep, bad ones to avert. The Dallas Museum ID's it as "Alaska Eskimo." So this certainly means southwest coast of Alaska (no trees grow on the tundra further north), where the peoples are Yu'pik or Aleut. Since the web and feathers are rather fragile, it might be fairly modern.


Two Turtle Art Gallery, Arnold Aron Jacobs, Onondaga, Canada--Two prints of paintings inspired by the recent birth of Miracle, the White Buffalo in Wisconsin show Ptesanwin with the Pipe and the calf. These are nice pictures by this noted artist, but the web display for them was done by an amateur web-hustler and is very ugly, detracts from the pictures themselves.


Gallery Goers, 1964 tempera, Alex Janvier, no tribe, --Very modernistic abstract painting, looks vaguely like it might have been influenced by Northwest Coast styles. You'd never know it was Native, but Glenbow: Art Museum says so, though they don't tell his tribe. (Dene)

Aboriginal Film & Video Arts Alliance--Canada Native multimedia artists get it together via the web. Interested multimedia types should get on this list and get together for projects. As yet there is no similar service for U.S. Native multimedia people.


Canadian Museum of Civilization - Grand Hall--Main Native Nations arts exhibit. This has reconstructed houses of 6 Northwest Coast tribes. You can virtually go inside, look both at the whole little inter-tribal village, and many household objects both of beauty and use. Documentary material on history and a talk with an elder.

Glenbow Western Canadian Art Museum--in Alberta has a, large Indian collection, a library, archives. One wishes they would post more of their Indian collection, and perhaps make uiniqe archival material on birchbark scrolls available on-line. One of the native exhibits shows a 19th-century " ledger art" drawing, one of 40 that formed a travelling exhibit. During its travels, a descendant of the artist recognized it, and now unlike virtually everything collected by museums from the 19th-century, this set of drawings is identified, and something about the artist is now known.

Royal Ontario Museum--With exhibits on Marks of the Mi'gmaq Nation, and Homes of the Past: The Archaeology of an Iroquoian Longhouse

SEE ALSO: Museums with Native exhibits ArtPage. Note also that there are subject matter pages such as metal and beadwork, pottery, basketry. Canadian First Nations craftspeople's work may be on those pages. This page is largely (but not entirely) fine arts.

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Explanatory text and graphics copyright 1995.

Last Updated: Friday, July 12, 1996 - 9:27:52 PM