My loving Haida grandparents left this realm 17 years ago, on the same day, of natural causes, after being married for 53 years. This event jump started my journey as a self-taught Haida artist, author & song writer. I became very passionate about using my natural talents to help keep my Indigenous culture alive. The Haida language is one of the most endangered ancient languages today. This has inspired me to preserve my culture in every way I possibly can. You can see through my work that this passion is woven into all aspects of my life:
As a Visual Artist, I create a variety of NW Coast Native artwork, graphics & illustrations for my books.
As a Storyteller, I share stories passed down by my elders as well as new stories I create. So far, I have 2 published children's picture books, “Killer Whale Eyes” & “Lovebirds-The True Story of Raven and Eagle” & 1 art instruction e-book “Formline Art Made Easy-Let's Draw Wolf”.
As a singer, I grew up singing gospel music in a choir at a South Seattle church...along with learning traditional Haida songs taught to me by my elders. I have composed 2 new Haida songs that go along with my books and am currently working on an album which will feature 7 songs. I am also drum/song leader of Haida Heritage Foundation dance group.
For the past 25 years, I’ve worked as an Educator in the Seattle Schools. I recently left my job to write books, teach about my art & culture in our communities and run my art business.
What stirs this passion within me? My grandparents spoke our language fluently, yet they did not teach us. As I got older, I learned why. To become "citizens" of the US, we had to relinquish our culture. So, my great-grandparents signed our culture away in 1911. But did they really? I think they signed those papers to protect us. Once known as fierce warriors, only 500 Haida warriors survived the genocidal acts of 1862. Through boarding schools & government health care, we were brainwashed & taught to be ashamed of who we are. Broken yet resilient, my people & culture survived. Today we are 4500 strong. Thanks to the hard work of my ancestors, elders & allies for keeping our culture alive! We are blessed to have the resources to re-learn our language in today’s world. We continue on the path of healing through reclaiming & reviving our culture.
All of this has fueled a burning ember within my soul. It is my “soul” responsibility to carry my ancient culture on as one of the surviving Haida.