Ways of Life

Historic Carvers

Prior to the arrival of European missionaries, carving was a major artistic activity among the Nisg̱a’a. There were many Nisg̱a’a carvers who created totem poles, bent boxes, and ceremonial items such as raven rattles, amhalayts, and tokens. Chiefs of different clans would often pay these carvers to create works and the carvers enjoyed a good living. Some well known Nisg̱a’a carvers were even hired from time to time to carve totem poles outside the Nass valley for neighbouring tribes, such as the Gitsalas and the Gitksan.

Oyee was considered the best Nisg̱a’a pole carver of the 1800s, while G̱akw’ihleen was highly regarded for carving small items such as frontlet headdresses, rattles, and spoons. Oyee’s totem poles now stand in many museums, and they are recognized for their quality in artistic vision and technical execution. He was said to have been a strong and heavily built man with very large hands, and he is believed to have died around 1867.

Other notable Nisg̱a’a carvers were: Ax̱ts’ip, Wii Seeks, Bayt N̓eeḵhl, Gwaanis, Ni’isginw̓aatx, Hlgu W̓aasan, G̱adax̱, Sg̱at’iin, Ni’isy̓oḵ, Tx̱as-diyee, and K’eex̱kw.

Carver: Aqstaqhl
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitlax̱gwanks
House: unknown
Village: Ank’idaa
Time active: 1870s and before
Died: circa 1890
Carvings:
Eagle’s Nest pole

Carver: Ax̱ts’ip
Tribe: Killer Whale
Clan: unknown
House: W̓iiseeks
Village: Gitwinksihlkw
Time active: 1860-1890
Carvings:
Three Persons Along pole, Pole of Keex̱kw, Whole Being pole

Carver: Bayt N̓eeḵhl
Tribe: Eagle
Clan: Lax̱ts’imilx
House: Hleeḵ
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: 1840-1870
Carvings:
Bear Pole of Ts’iixg̱an, Village on Tree, Pole of Sg̱at’iin, Pole of Ni’isy̓oḵ and Ni’iginw̱aatx, Gwingyoo’s Pole of the Bear, Roasted Person pole

Carver: Goagyaehl
Tribe: Raven
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Gwinwoḵ
Time active:
Died: circa 1900
Carvings: Mainly masks

Carver: Gwaanis
Tribe: Eagle
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Gitwinksihlkw
Time active: 1850s
Carvings:
Pole of Small Hat

Carver: Hlkwa’san
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Ank’idaa
Time active:
Died: circa 1875
Carvings:

Carver: Hlidax̱
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Sim Lax̱gibuu
House: unknown
Village: Ank’idaa
Time active: 1860 –
Died: circa 1880
Carvings:
Whale Pole of Hleeḵ

Carver: Hlidax̱
Tribe: Killer Whale
Clan: unknown
House: W̓ii Seeks
Village: Gitx̱at’in
Time active: 1870 -
Carvings:
Pole of Bayt N̓eeḵhl

Carver: K’eex̱kw
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitwiln̓aak’il̓
House: K’eex̱kw
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: 1850s
Carvings:
Eagle of Ts’aasg̱ooḵ

Carver: Liguneesk (Leonard Douglas)
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Ank’idaa
Time active: circa 1890
Died: circa 1940
Carvings:

Carver: Ligwen (Bryan Peel)
Tribe:
Clan: unknown
House:
Village:
Time active: 1890s
Carvings:
Half-Protruding pole

Carver: Nakedzaei
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Ank’idaa
Time active:
Died: circa 1912
Carvings:

Carver: Ni’isginw̓aatx
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitk’ansnaat
House: Ni’isginw̓aatx
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: 1870-1880
Carvings:
Pole of Duuḵ’, Broken Tree Pole

Carver: Ni’isy̓oḵ
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitk’ansnaat
House: Sg̱at’iin
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: 1870s
Carvings:
White Squirrel of Tx̱as-diyee

Carver: Oyee
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Luu-x̱s'anuhlkw
House: Bax̱k’ap
Village: Gitwinksihlkw
Time active: 1840-1880
Carvings:
Split Eagle and Whale pole, Pole of Small Hat, Crane and Grizzly pole, Shaking Pole of Kw’ax̱suu, Pole of Long Arms, Eagle-Halibut Pole of Laay̓, Pole of Sag̱aw̓een

Carver: G̱adax̱
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitwiln̓aak’il̓
House: Keex̱kw
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: circa 1890
Carvings:
Rainbow pole

Carver: Sg̱at’iin
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: Gitk’ansnaat
House: Sg̱at’iin
Village: Gitlax̱t’aamiks
Time active: 1860 – 1890
Died: circa 1910
Carvings:
Whereon Sits Woodpecker, Packing Robins, Pole of Ksi-di’ul̓, Gibilx̱ of Minee’eskw

Carver: Tx̱aa-kw’ihleen
Tribe: Wolf
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: Gitx̱at’in
Time active: 1870s
Died: circa 1915
Carvings:
masks, rattles, amhalayt,
Eagle on the Decayed Pole

Carver: Tx̱aalax̱hatkw
Tribe: unknown
Clan: unknown
House: unknown
Village: unknown
Time active: 1830s
Died: unknown
Carvings:
Sleeping Pole of the Raven

Carver: W̓ii Seeks
Tribe: Killer Whale
Clan: unknown
House: Wii Seeks
Village:
Time active: 1890s
Carvings:
Bear’s Den pole, Wide Base pole


Old man carving on porch
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Old man carving with trees in background
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Old Man Carving (close up)
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