|Dimensions||6 × 6 × 15 in|
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.
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 Makah have been great whale hunters, and highly skilled at traveling a dangerous ocean in large dugout canoes. This design honors traditional oral history about the Thunderbird hunting the Whale. The Makah Nation is the only tribe in the continental United States for whom whaling is an original treaty right.
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 has a brother that was raised by an Irish couple on the east coast of the U.S. with the last name Gearin. Early in his childhood he came to realize he was First Nations and would say to his adopted family, “One day I will live on a reserve”. He left the east coast and found his way to the northwest. After his schooling, he now works for the Federal Government as a fisheries biologist. This design represents his family, living life in a traditional way to find their path to the future, and remembering their past by honoring the present.