Saturday, July 30, 2005

More Beluga Whale News On CBC

I saw another news story centred around beluga whales last night. This time, it was on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) evening news on television. The town called Churchill in northern Manitoba is known as the polar bear capital of the world because every fall, polar bears migrate through the town. This brings tourists from all around the world to see them. Since Churchill is right on Hudson's Bay, the area also attracts the largest population of beluga whales every summer. This has created another tourist attraction with the creation of whale watching outfits that bring tourists out on the lake with boats. However, this has also attracted Inuit hunters who have come to shoot the beluga whales as game. Therefore, there is a battle going on between the tour operators and the Inuit hunters. Beluga whales are naturally curious and social, usually crowding around boats. The tour operators claim that since the arrival of the Inuit hunters, they have been scaring away some of the beluga whales. The tour operators acknowledge the Inuit hunters' rights to hunt beluga but wish that they would move their hunting elsewhere. One Inuit hunter interviewed on television thinks there should be more communication between the groups. He doesn't want to hurt the operators' industry but at the same time, he wants the hunters to retain the right to provide their people with country food which includes beluga whale. As a non-Inuit, it is still hard for me to see beluga whales being killed especially now that they are featured at such marine parks as Marineland in Niagara Falls. However, I also respect the culture and rights of the Inuit.

To see some beautiful artistic representations of beluga whales by the Inuit, see Inuit Carvings of Beluga Whales.

beluga whale inuit carving

Friday, July 29, 2005

Information Articles on Inuit Eskimo Art

As many are already aware, there's lots of information resource articles on Inuit Eskimo art at the Free Spirit Gallery website. For those of you who run ezines or related websites, it is possible to use some of these articles as content for your projects. Non photo versions of some of these articles can be found at the or sites if one does an article search under the author name Clint Leung. These articles can be republished for free as long as they are done so in their entirety without modifications and if the author information is included intact along with any active links as per the terms of use for these articles sites. These information articles can be a great source of extra useful content on Inuit Eskimo art for your readers.

Free Spirit Gallery has a nice selection of both Inuit carvings and Inuit prints.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Polar Bear Eskimo Art Sculpture With Teeth

Most Eskimo or Inuit art sculptures of polar bears will not show teeth but here's one from my gallery that does. It is by Johnnylee Akpalialuk of Pangnirtung. This particular Eskimo art sculpture is 8 3/4 inches in length, 4 inches wide by 4 inches high. It's actually one of two polar bears that are currently available at the Free Spirit Gallery Eskimo Sculptures area. They are beautiful pieces of Eskimo art that would easily go for about $1,000 or more in a street gallery but of course since Free Spirit Gallery is exclusively online, their prices are much more reasonable here.

eskimo art sculpture polar bear

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Complications of Paying Northwest Indian Art Carvers

Most of the time, Northwest Indian art carvers are paid cash for their wonderful artwork. Sometimes when transactions are done from a distance, I send them a check. It hasn't been a problem with some Northwest Indian artists but it has resulted in unnecessary complications with others. Some of these talented artisans still do not have bank accounts. One master carver tried to cash one of my checks through Money Mart and because my checks do not have my address, they refused the check. Now the artist is frustrated as am I. I still wonder why anyone in this day and age would not have a bank account? While some Northwest Indian art carvers already have their own galleries and websites, some are still a bit behind in managing their day to day lives. This is no reflection of their talents of course. I just wish that those that are a bit behind will get up to speed in the business end of things so that future business will be done more smoothly. This will greatly enhance the growth of the Northwest Indian art field in my opinion.

For some details on magnificent art, see Free Spirit Gallery Northwest Indian art.

Monday, July 25, 2005

New Nunavut Square To Be Built In Arctic Canada

A new city square will be build in Arctic Canada. This all stone project called the Nunavut Square will be in front of the elder's center in the Nunavut capital city of Iqaluit. It is an ambitious project to make the center into a more people-friendly, safe and beautiful place. It is also the first project in the city's "Capital District and Core Area Redevelopment" plan. When the Nunavut Square is finished next summer, it will feature a stone wall around its perimeter and a raised stone stage in the centre. "We're trying to make a community centrepiece, like a park, and we wanted something unique and reflective of Iqaluit, so it's being built out of stone," said Counciller Glenn Williams. Eight Iqaluit residents are also involved in the square's construction, receiving instruction from stone masons who are supervising the work. The stone bridge and park that the Iqaluit Beautification Society put up a couple of years ago will also be integrated into the new square, Williams said.

To see some beautiful artwork from Arctic Canada including Iqaluit, see Free Spirit Gallery Inuit Art.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Native American Indian Art Basket Maker Meets Bomb Squad

Native American Indian art basket maker Hope Flanagan shares her skills with high school students at Anishinabe Academy, Minneapolis. But on June 9, Flanagan's artwork met the Minneapolis Police Department's bomb squad. She wanted her students to learn about an ancient Native American Indian art basket-making technique involving strips from black ash trees. To make the black ash bark pliable, the tree trunk portion must be soaked in water for a year before the wood can be used. Soaking a tree that was cut down a year ago was a challenge. "I don't live near a lake or on a river," said Flanagan, who lives in the city. So she bought a PVC plastic pipe from a hardware store that was big enough to hold the 4-inch ash trunk. She put her black ash in the pipe, capped one end, filled it with water and capped the other end. On June 8, she brought the entire thing to school. Her students opened the pipe to a "rather strong odor," Flanagan said. The bark was peeled back and then the students used mallets to pound the ash to create strips. At the end of the school day, she put the ash back in the pipe and filled it with water again. However, because of the odor, the pipe was put in a plastic garbage bag outside the school. The next morning, the school's head engineer spotted the garbage bag, checked inside and saw the capped PVC pipe, which can also be used to make bombs. The engineer called police who called in the bomb squad. "If people suspect something, they should err on the side of safety," said police spokesman Ron Reier. The school area was cornered off and the bomb techs blew up the pipe which resulted in the discovery of the remaining 3-foot section of black ash. So goes another story with Native American Indian art in the modern world.

For a look at some very nice contemporary Native American Indian art, see the Free Spirit Gallery website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Clay Available Again For Southwest Native American Indian Art

Fern Sanchez's Southwest Native American Indian family has been making pots out of the pure clay found in the hills above Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico for five generations. Sanchez learned the Southwest Native American Indian art pot making craft from her mother and grandmother. She has since taught the skills to both her own daughter and her grandson. But for decades the clay has been technically off limits for the Picuris tribe. The Oglebay Norton mining company filed for bankruptcy last year and the Picuris Pueblo reached a settlement for ownership of the land. "Now we're able to go out there without being harassed and again create the pottery," Sanchez said. However, clay pits that have supplied Picuris' pottery for generations are scarred by decades of mica mining. "It was devastating to go up there," Sanchez said. "When I first thought about it, I thought it would be just a big hole in the mountain. But it was really bad­-like an open wound." Ogelbay mined the rock for construction materials and cosmetics. For the Picuris, the mica-rich clay produces pottery that is easier to fire, more durable, and that adds a unique flavor to food when used for cooking. There is now a plan to stabilize the entire site, protect cultural resources and wildlife habitat, and create a land use other than mining. And of course, the Sanchez family can continue to make Southwest Native American Indian art pottery as they have been doing for generations.

For details on Native American Indian art from the Southwest's counterparts in the Pacific Northwest, see Northwest Native American Indian Art.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beluga Whale In Vancouver Aquarium Dies

One of the young beluga whales in the Vancouver Aquarium was found dead this past week. This particular beluga whale was only three years old. Beluga whales from the Canadian Arctic waters have been held in captivity in aquariums only the last several years. In addition to Vancouver, which was the site of a much publicized birth a few years ago, there are also the white color beluga whales in Niagara Falls' Marineland. There are now claims that such whales should not be held in captivity.

The Inuit of course have been very familiar with this type of whale as they are part of the usual game hunted. The Arctic beluga whale is also a popular subject for Inuit art sculpture and prints. For some nice examples of belugas, see Inuit art whale sculptures.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Northern Ontario Canadian First Nations Artist Blog

Check out Eric's blog called Bingorage at He's got a contest going for some great original Canadian First Nations artwork. He resides up at Fort Frances in Northern Ontario. I've been to Fort Frances many years ago and I can tell you that it's got one of the prettiest wilderness scenes anywhere.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Northwest Indian Art Grizzly Bear Carving Sold

To my surprise, that Northwest Indian art Grizzly Bear with Raven and Eagle Mask Warrior carving I had just added to the Free Spirit Gallery website today just got sold a few hours later. Sorry folks but I'll get some others in soon. Meanwhile, there's still a good selection of Northwest Indian art carvings.

New Northwest Indian Art Grizzly Bear Carving

I have just added a new Northwest Indian art carving of a grizzly bear with raven and eagle mask warriors by master carver Peter Charlie. This piece is one of the most complex carvings I've seen done by Peter. The shapes he put into it are just amazing. To see more images and details, see Northwest Indian Art Bear Carvings. There's also a profile of Peter Charlie on the Free Spirit Gallery website where there are images of him at work - see Northwest Indian Art Carver Peter Charlie.

northwest indian art bear carving

Navajo Nation Homes in Southwest Finally Get Electrical Power

The southwest region of the US has been a powerhouse for Southwest Native Indian art for years but surprisingly until just recently, some Native homes were still powerless when it came to electricity. Fifty Navajo Nation homes now have electricity for the first time thanks to solar power systems built and installed by Sacred Power Corp., a Native American Indian-owned company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "When the people came out to hook (the electricity) up, I said, 'Thank you. We've been in the dark for a long time,'" said Larry Toledo, a Native resident whose home was powerless before. The portable systems run on both solar and wind power. They consist of an 800-watt photovolt cell, 400-watt wind turbine, 10,000-watt-hour batteries and an AC inverter. High-efficiency refrigerators and energy-efficient light bulbs were added on to the overall packages. Sacred Power owner Dave Melton, a member of Laguna Pueblo tribe, said he was honored to provide a service that most people in the US already enjoy. "It's very gratifying to see how happy these people are. It's almost too good to be true," Melton said.

For other interesting details about Native Americans, see Free Spirit Gallery Native American Links.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Arctic Beluga Whales As Inuit Carvings

I was watching TV the other night and saw the commercial for Marineland which is a Canadian version of Seaworld in San Diego and Orlando. Marineland is in the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and has been there for many years. I remember first going there as a child. Like Seaworld, dolphins and killer whales have been their main stars. In recent years, the newest stars to arrive at Marineland has been beluga whales from the Canadian Arctic waters. These beluga whales are featured prominently in Marineland's latest commercials with even mentions in the lyrics of their theme song. It turns out that beluga whales are also one of the popular subjects that Inuit artists like to feature. Of course, the beluga whale up north is not portrayed like play friends like it is at Marineland. Beluga whales are part of the game and food source for Inuit hunters. As a southerner, it's a bit hard to grasp especially after seeing the Marineland commercials but then again, that's the reality of the Inuit Arctic life. The beluga whales are exquisitely depicted in Inuit carvings and other Inuit art such as prints and wall hangings. An example is the Inuit carving of mother and baby beluga whales below by Joanasie Jonah of Iqaluit, Nunavut. To see more details of this Inuit carving and other whales, see Inuit Whale Sculpture Carvings.

beluga whale inuit carving

Monday, July 11, 2005

Alaska Northwest Natives Want Toxin Studies

Alaska Northwest Natives have relied on game such as moose and caribou for thousands of years and have even put them in their Northwest Native art. However, many have seen runny bone marrow in moose and caribou, as well as lesions and parasites in fish. Shawna Larson, who works for Alaska Community Action on Toxins, wonder if toxic chemicals in these traditional foods are making people sick, too. "We see things our elders never used to see," she said. "Why do we have cancer? Why do we have high diabetes?" Larson says evidence linking sickness in the wild food supply to illness in humans needs to be studied. She also is working to change federal standards that measure toxin levels in Alaska's wild foods. The cancer was rare 50 years ago yet today, the disease is the leading cause of death among Alaska Northwest Natives. "Something is wrong," said Larson, who also works for the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We just want to know why we are sick." One wonders if there are more environmental factors as well as social factors such as smokingand poor 'western' diets that are contributing to illnesses.

For other cultural information, see Northwest Native Art Information Resource Articles.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Order To Protect Pacific Northwest Region Salmons

U.S. District Judge James Redden has ordered the government to release heavy amounts of river water over four Columbia basin dams this summer in the Pacific Northwest region. Redden called U.S. efforts to protect salmon an exercise "more in cynicism than in sincerity." The federal dams provide relatively low-cost electricity, irrigation water, and barge transportation across Pacific Northwest states Oregon, Washington and Idaho. However, the big federal dams kill and injure federally protected fish, now comprising 13 populations. Water spilled over dams to help juvenile salmon migrate to sea bypasses turbines and so can't be used to generate electricity. Bob Lohn from the National Marine Fisheries Service believes the government will appeal the court order. Salmon have been an important food source for the Pacific Northwest native people for centuries. These fish are so important that they often use them as subjects in their wonderful Pacific Northwest Native art. For examples, see Pacific Northwest Native Art Salmons.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Canadian First Nation Indian Museum To Be Built

The Rufus Prince building, a former residential school building in the town of Portage la Prairie in the Canadian province of Manitoba, is being transformed into a museum dedicated to the history of Canadian First Nation Indian residential schools. The museum will adopt a motto which will be "From a place of hurting to a place of healing". It will honor and acknowledge students' experiences, despite the pain it caused many Canadian First Nation aboriginal youth. "There is no better place to house the museum than a former residential school," said Dennis Meeches, Long Plains Canadian First Nation Chief. "It does bring back memories for [many former students], but we also have to capture the residential school experience to have a better understanding as part of our healing journey. We want to be able to tell the story through Canadian First Nation people, through our eyes, through our experiences. Nobody else can tell that story better than we would be able to." Meeches, whose own parents and grandparents attended residential schools, hopes the Canadian government will help fund the museum which is expected to open by 2008.

For more interesting information, see Canadian First Nation Information Resource Articles.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pacific Northwest Coast Indian Art Print Goes To Australia

Here's a wonderful Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art print that will be going to a lucky customer in Australia. It turns out that he was looking for this specific print by Pacific Northwest Coast Indian artist Chief Floyd Joseph who is actually a real chief with the Squamish Nation in North Vancouver. This print depicts a loon and is named 'Protection'. Interestingly enough, there are only 18 of these prints (as artist proofs) in existence. This print is also one of the Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art eCards at Free Spirit Gallery so everyone can share this beautiful work of art on the internet. There's another Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art print by Chief Floyd Joseph at Free Spirit Gallery.

pacific northwest coast indian art print

Northwest Indian College Graduates Seventy Students

Northwest Indian College in Washington state is the only regional tribal college in the United States and has 29 extension campuses in the Puget Sound region. Recently, 70 students received two-year degrees in nine fields of study which is a tribute to Northwest Indian College's success. Here's some interesting statistics of the students; the average age is 27 years old; 64% of students are older than 30; 44% are married: and 50% have two or more dependent children. "They cater to you to get you through," said one Northwest Indian College student who could take her 4 year old daughter to classes. "They gave me the opportunity to be with my children and bring them to classes in order to keep me going." Fred Dorr, Northwest Indian College's community relations director, said students' successes are having a ripple effect in their own Northwest Indian communities. "Each student reaches about 25 people including family and friends," he said. "They are positive role models. Others see what they've accomplished and say, 'Hey, maybe I can do that too.'"

To see more articles on the culture of Northwest Indian people, see Northwest Indian Art Information Resource Articles.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Canadian First Nations School Replaces French With Cree Language

Albert Elementary School in Regina replaced French class with the Canadian First Nations Cree language as part of a pilot program last fall. The objective was to give the Canadian First Nations aboriginal students a better connection to their cultural past. "Without the language and without the children learning it, it is going to evaporate," says Cree language teacher Sonia Kinequon. "And if we don't have a setting where children can learn their language, they are eventually going to lose it." The Cree classes focus on traditional First Nations songs, puppets and crafts. The students do actions as they chant Cree words. "It's cool," says Gordon Kequahtooway, a Grade 6 student. "It's our culture." The school has also set up a Cree program for Canadian First Nations adults as well. For two hours once per week, parents learn Cree with their children.

For more interesting information, see other articles on Canadian First Nations culture.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Free Contest Draw For Native Canadian Art

There is a free contest draw for Native Canadian art paintings from a First Nations artist located in Northern Ontario. I have been up to this region near Fort Frances, Dryden, Kenora, Atikokan and Red Lake. There are a few Native Canadian reservations up there and an up and coming Native art scene is emerging. This area is next to the Canadian province of Manitoba and north of the US state of Minnesota. Check out the details of this great opportunity at;

For other incredible artwork, see Free Spirit Gallery Native Canadian Art.