I began carving at a place called K'san
in nearby Hazelton. At that time a lot of really good artistsworked
together there. Ken Mowatt, Vernon Stephens, Art Sterritt and Earl Muldon.
I learned from all of them, but mostly from my Chief and uncle Walter Harris
(GEEL). I started an apprenticeship with my uncle that lasted about 4 years.
We hunted and fished and carved together 8 dayz a week. When I wuz old
enough, I wuz put into K'san's 'Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian
Art'. I continued my apprenticeship at the same time. When I graduated
from the art school, they hired me as an instructor. That wuz a great and
extremely lucky start for my career. I wuz 18 years old. Right from the
start my uncle had me working on some of his many large commissions. At
first I got to hollow out the backs of big totems and as my craftsmanship
improved, he gave me small portions of the front to carve. And when I won
my own commissions, I could only think ofgetting my uncle Walterto help me and he did so veryhappilyand
proudly. I also got to work on a large totem with Ken Mowatt, we made that one for Kansas
City Missouri. About the same year I got invited to give
carving demonstrations at the 'World Artists Symposium' in Toronto. That
wuz a nice time and my first ride in a jet airplane. Another time I wuz
helping my uncle with a 40 foot totem pole that wuz raised at University
of B.C. in Vancouver. They made a documentary film about that one but I
wuz being camera shy. K'san wuz a great place to learn but I wanted to
spread my works around. Istarted selling my carvings in Prince Rupert
and then I moved to Vancouver for a couple of years. I met some more Indian
artists and gallery owners and sold everything I made.
When I got homesick I moved back to my Kispiox
village. A while later I got invites to go to Ottawa and show them all
how I can carve at the Canada Canoe Festival. On the way home the plane
stops in Vancouver and I meet Robert Davidson. He wants me to help him
with some big totems. So me and Reg Davidson started a 2 year 'apprenticeship'
with RD. We made two 30-foot totems and a 50 -footer. All 3 ended up in
Toronto. We also made masks for Roberts dance group. Next Robert wants
my help with some more large totems for Pepsi Art Gardens in NYC? I wuz
working on those until my uncle Walter called me and asked me to go to
Ottawa with him to carve a 40 foot totem for Canada Day. So I quit working
for RD and moved 3000 miles away. After helping my uncle, I stayed in the
east and worked on a few of my own commissions, including a large blanket
for Expo 86. About a year later I got invites to the 'Native Business Summit'
in Toronto. I met some stone carvers from Six Nations Reservation. So I
moved there with Benny Thomas and Vince Bomberry and they showed me all
about rock carving. When I got lonesome for home I started heading west.
Back to Kispiox. The centre of the world. I came home and briefly retired
from the starvin art business. I got fattened up by hunting and fishing.
That's when I noticed my Gitxsan jungle wuz disappearing fast, so I got
involved in LAND CLAIMS. Delgamuuk vs the Queen. I became a computer expert
working with g.i.s. mapping equipment. I wuz also a teaching a few computer
courses at the same time. Then one day I started carving again, I got invites
to participate in an art show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. That was called
'Topographies' I made a real nice Chiefs chair for them to show the world.
(This chair and another are both now on display at K'san) One summer I
worked with my cousin Earl Muldon in nearby Kitwancool village. We were
makin full size duplicates of some of the very best old totem poles in
the world. I got to do work on three large poles that year. Real totems
for real people. I continued to enter art shows in Vancouver and even made
it onto the cover of two catalogs. Then I finally got to do a big carving
that would stay in my own village. A large wall panel for our new school.
Now that’s my favourite carvin!!?!!