|Dimensions||6 × 6 × 20 in|
Looking closely at this design, you can see two faces sharing one mouth. This represents the concept of people agreeing on an idea. There are four other faces incorporated in the design, which add their own interpretation to the concept of the talking circle. New ideas keep our cultural moving. Change is the constant. We embrace the change as we move ahead in our society.
People on the coast spent the spring, summer and fall gathering sustenance for the long harsh winters. The winter was for singing and dancing. The people gathered in their longhouses and related to one another by remembering and honoring their ancestors and sharing a genealogical relationship with the people of other houses. By naming the house posts, the people remembered their ancestors who were direct descendants of the house that had passed on before.The wolves in the design represent the Warrior Society among some of the coastal First Nations.
After the federal government signed treaties with the First Nations of the US, the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave everyone English names and enrollment numbers to keep track of us. They never enough cared to realize that we had a powerful sense of family and relationship with one another, which came about through a highly developed naming system that provided a system of order and rank.
Nytom often wonders what it would take to live in a perfect world: A place where people took only what they needed, left the rest for others and always got along. This image is what I imagined the world would be like if there was such a place.
This is a special design Nytom has often revisited. It represents him and his partner living in the Circle of Life. After Nytom moved to Sequim, they had a Christmas holiday party for their friends, to enjoy each other’s company while sharing in the holiday spirit. They presented each guest with a copy of this design to show their appreciation for honoring the invitation.
As a young girl, Nytom’s mother knew a man called “Young Doctor” in the village of Neah Bay. He was an artist, carver, song maker and fisherman. His ability to make songs hadn’t come easy. Young Doctor walked bent over because of an accident in the woods. While he was caught under a tree, many songs came to him. Soon after he recovered from his accident, he brought out those songs for the people of Neah Bay. One song Nytom likes singing the most talks about frogs coming out of the ground in the spring. The people of Neah Bay sing this song at every community gathering. Like the frogs’ singing, it brings us together with a spirit of unity.
The three entities in this design portray the power emanating from a coastal drumming circle. When we are drumming, the circle is in unison. It is like the Thunderbird, enveloping us all as one. It is beautiful feeling that resonates through every fiber of our being, and a collective experience that is truly sacred.