Gitxsan Art
Walter Harris
On June 10 1931, Walter Evans Harris was born to Clara and Chris Harris, both parents were from prominent Gixsan families.   Both Walter and his mother Clara are from the Fireweed clan and his father Chris is from the Wolf clan.   They are all members of the Gitxsan Nation located in northern British Columbia, Canada.   Walter received his uncle's Hereditary Chief name Geel.   Receiving this name and its responsibilities established him as the recognized Head Chief of Kispiox village.   On September 7, 1956 Walter married his wife Sadie in nearby Hazelton.   Walter and Sadie now have five children, twenty grandchildren and three great grandchildren.   His two sons have carried on the carving tradition and have learned and worked with him on several projects.

Walter has been successful in every venture he has undertaken.   Before his career as an artist, Walter's energy, talents and determination contributed to his success in various industries, such as a miner, sawmill owner/operator, carpenter and commercial fisherman.   While taking part in the construction of a replica of the Gitxsan Village now know as K'san, Walter was intrigues by the forms and symbolisms of Northwest Coast Indian Art.   This awakened interest led him to want to learn more so he enrolled in the newly formed Kitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art in 1969.   His belief in preserving and creating the traditional form of northwest coast art contributed to his decision to leave all facets of his employment in 1969.   He studied and mastered jewellery making under Jack Leyland, woodcarving under Duane Pasco and Doug Cranmer, and attended seminars on Northwest Coast Graphic design given by Bill Helm.

Walter Harris has received dozens of commissions from the government and the private sector and has created works for, among others, the Vancouver International Airport, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Victoria Island in Ottawa, the Westar Sawmill office in Japan, the Canadian Embassy in Paris and the House of Commons.

"Art is my life and the life of my people.  I want my work through the many pieces I have created, to live and carry on the rich tradition of our people".

"I have always felt the importance of passing on my knowledge and my skills to my sons, my family and any person interested in learning.  We cannot allow our art to die out, for it connects us to our past and intertwines us in the present and makes way for us into the future".