|Dimensions||6 × 6 × 20 in|
The central figure in this design is a female entity, representing the matriarchal nature of our society. The women of coastal tribes were entrusted to hold, protect and preserve the names, songs and dances of their people. This high honor was bestowed upon women because they were entrusted with giving birth and being the primary caretakers of the children. Light heartedly, it is sometimes said, ‘you often see a Native man walking in front of a Native woman, and that is so the woman can tell the man which way to go.’ From a more serious perspective, it is known that men once lived severe lifestyles as hunters and warriors. It was important to recognize that if anything dreaded happened to the men, women would bear the heavy responsibility of keeping traditional cultures alive and flourishing.
Wolves mate for life, and Nytom often uses the wolf to inspire his imagination in creating new designs. In the cultures of coastal peoples the wolf means a great deal, and is used in ceremonies to remind us to first take care of our elders and young, before ourselves. The design shows two wolves paired off, looking at each other and another wolf pair yet to be born.
Making his way through this world as an artist has given Nytom opportunities to convey the deep meaning of the teachings passed down by his elders. An important teaching of his grandparents was, “It is the hearts of others with values that help preserve a positive way of life.” In this design ‘Children Born of the Sun’ there appears the idea of the importance of teaching others the ways of our people. The Sun is representative of the Creator to many cultures throughout the world, and together with the Earth it transforms all living things. Nytom’s grandmother liked to say that “when you see a rainbow in the sky, it means someone’s prayers are being answered.” The faces represent the spirits of our ancestors and children not yet born. How fortunate we are to have the sense of responsibility to teach others the ways of our people. We are truly all Children Born of the Sun.
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.
There are many events in nature that represent the cycle of life. Among many coastal tribes, the cycle of life is heralded by the spawning of the salmon each year. Young salmon migrate to their village far out in the ocean, and then after several years at sea endure an arduous journey fraught with dangers to return to their birth waters. The Salmon would always return because the tribes honored the Salmon People in their First Salmon Ceremonies. In doing so, they also teach the people to continue to overcome all odds–to survive and keep their traditional cultures alive.