Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Norway to Build Arctic Noah's Ark

The Norwegian government is building a frozen "Noah's Ark" in their Arctic region to safeguard the world's crop seeds from any possible world catastrophe. The Global Seed Vault will be built on the island of Svalbard which is 600 miles from the North Pole. It includes space for three million seed varieties such as rice, wheat, and barley as well as fruits and vegetables. Norway has worked with the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization on these plans. It would receive financial support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust to help poor countries use the storage. Construction for The Global Seed Vault begins this month in June and should be completed by September 2007. What will they think of next?

See Free Spirit Gallery for awesome Arctic Art.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Voyage of Sedna Expedition

Saw a documentary on TV last night about the voyage of the ship Sedna which took a crew of 15 Canadians up through the Arctic and the Northwest passage. It was part of the Nature of Things series by Dr. David Suzuki. It was a 5 month journey that started in Quebec, Canada and went up north along the east coast to the Arctic. After going through the Arctic, they went through the Bering Straight on down the west coast to Vancouver.

There were many images and footage of Arctic wildlife and commentary about how global warming is affecting different parts of the north. Showed footage of polar bears, walruses, seals, birds, whales and even narwhal. It was sad to hear that the decreasing ice flows affect the wildlife. Polar bears are not able to hunt and some young bears have even starved to death. The biologists claim that the northern wildlife could be replaced by southern wildlife migrating north if the trends of warming continue. Even the majestic polar bear could be wiped out. I can't even begin to explain my own feelings about this. We must not let this happen to our polar bears and other Arctic animals.

For more information on bears, see Polar Bears of the Arctic.

For great Inuit carvings of bears, see Polar Bear Carvings.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Video Footage From First People's Native Festival in Montreal

I attended the First People's Native Festival in Montreal during the past weekend and took lots of video footage from artisans as well as native dances and music. This will result in several video clips that will appear on the Free Spirit Gallery website in the future. There were dances by Mohawk, Huron and Cherokee nations from both US and Canada. The event was well attended and the weather was perfect. I would expect that the first video clips from this event will be ready by mid July so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, check out our gallery for great First Nations Native Art.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Northwest Native American Indian Company Success

Yakama Juice, the juice production plant owned by the Northwest Native American Indian Yakama Nation in Washington state, will supply Costco with 20,000 cases of fruit juice. Apple juice and pomegranate juice will be sold in 45 Costco stores throughout the Northwest states as well as Alaska. They also provide juice for a national grocery chain and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's government food assistance programs. Yakima Juice employs about 75 workers. This is a real success story.

Brought to you by Free Spirit Gallery where you will find magnificent Northwest Native American Indian Art.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Institute of American Indian Arts Gets New President

Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet, 51, is the new president for the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico. Her main focus for IAIA students is success, which she measures by graduation. Manuelito-Kerkvliet, a Native American Indian Navajo, wants to see increased student enrollment, more qualified professors as well as a close one-on-one atmosphere between students, faculty and herself. The IAIA has 215 students at its 140-acre campus near Santa Fe. In any given year, the student body can represent up to 112 Native American Indian tribes.

For Native American Indian art, see Free Spirit Gallery

Thursday, June 22, 2006

American Indian Art Heard Museum Opens West Location

The Heard Museum in Arizona has opened a satellite location called Heard Museum West in the town of Surprise. This will actually be the third location since they have opened Heard North in 1996. The Heard Museum is one of the premier museums of American Indian art and cultural artifacts in the southwest United States.

For contemporary American Indian art, see Free Spirit Gallery.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Inuit Inukshuk Carvings

Free Spirit Gallery has two new additions to its Inuit inukshuk collection. These are two nice Inuit carvings by Mary Qumagaaluk, a female Inuit carver. These pieces are solid proof that Inuit carving is not the sole domain of men. A nice feature of these two inukshuk carvings is that they are priced below $100 US each. See their details at Inuit Inukshuk Carvings.

inuit inukshuk carvings

inuit inukshuk carvings

New Inuit Throat Singing Videos

Free Spirit Gallery has added three new videos of Inuit throat singing. These performances were caught on video during an Inuit art festival in Ottawa, Canada. Inuit throat singing has been making a comeback in recent years due to renewed interest among the Inuit community, especially among the younger generation. Links to these videos are found on the article about Inuit Throat Singing.

inuit throat singers singing music

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Government Buys Disputed Land

The province of Ontario government is buying out a developer whose unfinished subdivision sits on disputed land in Caledonia, Canada. However, Canadian First Nations aboriginal protesters say they'll continue to occupy the site until the property is in their hands.

Six Nations protesters say the deal being finalized between the Ontario and Henco Industries Ltd. shifts ownership of the land they say belongs to their ancestors, but doesn't solve the ongoing crisis.

Ontario intends to hold the land in trust while talks aimed at ending the occupation continue between representatives of the Six Nations, the province and Ottawa (federal government of Canada).

"That title and jurisdiction isn't placed back with Six Nations, is it? And that's what the issue is," said Canadian aboriginal Six Nations spokeswoman Janie Jamieson.

She said the next step was to "keep on hoping" that government officials would take steps to resolve the land issue.

"They haven't begun to resolve anything with us, but as a far as corporate Canada - they've done everything to appease them," Jamieson said.

"Of course they would pay several million dollars to appease the developers and the business people. They would spend that amount of money before they would even begin to resolve the land issue, which is the meat of the story anyway."

The Ontario minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, David Ramsay, wouldn't disclose the value of the deal, citing Henco's concerns about proprietary information. Jamieson suspects it's worth several million dollars.

Ramsay said the deal should alleviate some of the tension in Caledonia, where some incidents of violence have occurred, including recent assaults on two television cameramen and the alleged attempted murder of a police officer.

He said the deal effectively eliminates one player in the complex dispute that was raging even before aboriginal protesters took over the land in February.

"What we're trying to do with arrangements like this is to cool the temperature so that we can get some long-term decision-making at that negotiating table done," Ramsay said.

"This continues to be a flashpoint. So we're trying to cool the temperature in the community and around the table so that we can get constructive dialogue going."

Ramsay added that it has not been determined who will eventually take possession of the land.

"It will be up to the long-term negotiating table to basically work out what the final disposition would be of that land."

The Six Nations occupiers say the land is part of a parcel that was wrongly taken from them by the Crown (Canadian government) in the 1840s.

The province also said Friday it would provide an additional $1 million to help Caledonia and surrounding businesses recover. Frustrated business owners say blockades set up on Highway 6, the community's main road, discouraged customers. Two businesses have hired a lawyer to file a class-action lawsuit to recoup what is being called "tens of millions" of dollars in losses.

Economic Development Minster Joe Cordiano said Friday's announcement brings the total amount of provincial aid to more than $1.7 million. He said the new money will help the community to get back to normal as soon as possible.

"Our plan is to continue to work to get businesses, which are the engines of the local economy, back on their feet as quickly as we can," Cordiano said.

See Free Spirit Gallery for excellent Canadian aboriginal art.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Online Inuit Art Gallery Called Unfair Competition

Recently, I made an application to exhibit at the Toronto International Art Fair in order to help expose Inuit art to a broader fine art audience. I already knew that a well known Inuit gallery (Feheley's Fine Arts) in Toronto had already exhibited at this fair for the last few years so there is some potential for Inuit art at such events. I was informed last week that the selection committee for the fair had rejected our application for a booth. The selection committee is comprised mainly of owners of traditional street galleries. The organizer of the fair told me this week that the rejection was based on Free Spirit Gallery's exclusively online status and we were considered unfair competition by street retail galleries. He also told me that as long as my gallery remains an internet only business, there's no point in applying to any of the art fairs in the future as the selection committees will all have the same type of animosity towards online galleries.

I don't know if Feheley had anything to do with the Toronto rejection since she is a part of the gallery association but I've run into bad reception before when I walked into an Inuit art gallery in Basel, Switzerland. The owner there claimed that I was destroying the market with my lower prices and that online businesses should just disappear.

I don't know what the street galleries really expect us online gallery owners to do but I cannot justify raising my prices just to bring them up to the street gallery level. Why should I? I don't have the same type of overhead and my customers are happy with my prices as well as service. Why raise prices just to please the street galleries?

Like all types of businesses, things can change over time and the street galleries will just have to find a smarter way to do business. Online businesses are here to stay whether they like it or not. If online galleries are to be snubbed by all the art fairs, we will find other ways to get our artwork in front of people.

If customers want to see and touch artwork before purchasing, that's fine as long as they are willing to pay street gallery prices. If they are willing to purchase without the see and touch in order to pay online prices, that's fine too. Consumers should have choices on where and how they want to shop. We simply offer an alternative. This "us versus them" attitude that some (but perhaps not all) street galleries have is just plain immature.

For Inuit art with an online gallery with great prices and service, see Free Spirit Gallery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One Inuit Eskimo Native Basket Left

There's only one Inuit Eskimo Native basket left at Free Spirit Gallery. This particular basket was made by Lucy Weetaluktuk of Inukjuak, Nunavik (northern Arctic Quebec). It is made of sea lyme grass that is grown in the Inukjuak area. The top lid had a stone Inuit carving of a fish. This basket is nine inches high including the fish and six and a half inches at the widest diameter. Supply of these Inuit Eskimo Native baskets from the Canadian Arctic are very sporadic as the Inuit do not seem to make them all the time.

For more details on this basket, see Inuit Eskimo Native Baskets at Free Spirit Gallery. If this Native basket interests you, don't hesitate to order it as it is the last one in stock.

eskimo inuit native baskets

New Haida Northwest Indian Art Exhibition Opens in Vancouver

'Raven Travelling' is a new Haida Northwest Indian art exhibition and is one of the most anticipated art shows of this summer to open this Saturday at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The new exhibition features more than 200 years of Haida Northwest Indian art. The collection of more than 250 totem poles, masks, jewelry and ceremonial regalia is the most complete exhibition of its kind ever assembled.

This show took years of preparation, negotiation and education by Haida participants and scholars who helped assemble the collection. It includes works from both public and private collections.

Nika Collison, curator of the Haida Museum in Skidegate, B.C., and one of the curators on the Raven Travelling show, says the show will illustrate the Haida concept that everything depends on everything else.

"Our art is derived from our lands and our waters," Collison said in an interview with CBC Radio.

The totem pole, for example, one of the most familiar of Haida artifacts, is more than just a beautiful work of art. "Totem poles for us carry all kinds of meaning," said Jim Hart, who has a 16.5-metre totem pole outside his home in Old Masset.

"This is family history. So when you stick a pole up like this, it's your connection to your past," he said.

Narrative is important in Haida Northwest Indian art and Haida stories run through modern works by Northwest Indian artists such as the late Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and Isabel Rorick as strongly as they do through the older works.

"We're telling a story that might be familiar to some when we talk about how our people survived, and yet I don't think it's something that's even taught in schools," said Collison, who is studying the Haida language.

One piece to be shown is Robert Davidson's 2005 acrylic on canvas 'Grizzly Bear' which is from the collection of Diana Krall and Elvis Costello. The raven and the eagle, symbols of the two defining Haida Northwest Indian clans and important characters in Haida Northwest Indian myth, are shown frequently in other pieces. The raven figure appears as trickster, transformer and creator. For more information on these characters, see the articles on the raven and the eagle.

Four different Reid sculptures are shown on the back of Canadian $20 bills, including The Spirit of Haida Gwaii and Raven and the First Men. More details of this monetary artwork is at Northwest Indian art banknote

The land is a traditional source of inspiration to Haida artists, but the exhibit also explores new influences on Haida art and key figures in development of a modern art form. Jewelry, canoes, chests, root-weaving and argillite plates are featured, along with prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture by contemporary artists of Haida heritage.

Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art is at the Vancouver Art Gallery from June 10 to September 17.

For contemporary Northwest Indian art, see Free Spirit Gallery.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Online Eskimo Inuit Art Gallery Wants To Remind the .CA

Online Eskimo Inuit art gallery Free Spirit Gallery wants to remind those who are typing in their web address on their browser that they should type in a .ca address rather than a .com one. The .com version will take you to another Free Spirit Gallery that is totally different and does not deal with either Inuit or American Indian art.

Owner of the .ca site Clint Leung says, "When we originally registered our site, the .com address was already in existence and it was a small one artist gallery based in Curacao. I believe that it has since moved to the US but it is still a one artist website dealing with contemporary paintings. The .ca domain represents Canadian based websites so we decided to go with that hoping that people who are looking for the Inuit and Native art site will find us."

It seems that this is probably the case these days as the .ca domain ranks well in search engine listings and even if individuals go to the .com site by mistake, a search for Inuit art or Northwest Native art will take them to the .ca site.

Leung adds that, "We feel that the two Free Spirit Gallery sites are different enough that internet visitors will eventually find the right one on their own since the two art markets are pretty different. They won't find Inuit art or Northwest Native art there at the .com site and they won't find contemporary art paintings at our site."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Old Native Canadian Indian Belt Returns to Tribe

In 1838, Chief Shingwauk gave a native Canadian Indian wampum belt to Sir John Colbourne to help get a school for the Anishnabe area in Ontario, Canada. That belt recently came home to the Sault Ste. Marie and Garden River Band in northern Ontario after being purchased from Sotheby's auction house in New York. "I tried to go through channels to get it released to us but they wouldn't let it go," said Chief Lyle Sayers.

The Garden River Band Council gave their approval to buy it, and Sayers got on the phone and placed a bid. "In about a minute $34,000 had been spent ... but it wasn't about the money; it was about bringing the wampum back home."

The belt has parallel rows of purple and white beads. The purple rows represents the teachings, values and beliefs of the Anishinabe people and their boats while the white beads represent the European settlers and their tall ships. The belt's power is reflected in a new agreement between Shingwauk University and Algoma University College in northern Ontario. While both remain as independent universities, both schools will share the same teachers, services, space and resources. Students can enroll in, and graduate from, either university.

" [Chief Shingwauk] spoke to the importance of education 175 years ago and it is still important in 2006. Education can be one of the big cures for our social ills" says Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief.

"True evidence of our success will be when one of the grandchildren of Chief Shingwauk graduates from Shingwauk University" states Darrell Boissoneau, President of Shingwauk Education Trust.

See Free Spirit Gallery for Native Canadian Indian art

Friday, June 09, 2006

Nunavut Government Officials will have to speak Inuktitut Inuit Language

Senior government officials in Nunavut territory in Canada's Arctic have been told that they have to be able to speak the native Inuit language Inuktitut by 2008, or risk losing their jobs.

Premier Paul Okalik said the goal is to have Nunavut's senior staff comfortable in Inuktitut within 18 months as he revealed the policy during the mid-term leadership review Tuesday.

"Well they have to be fluent, they have to work with members and with people within Nunavut," the premier said. "They should understand and be able to communicate with Inuit that may be unilingual."

Seven deputy ministers and presidents of Canadian Crown corporations are taking Inuktitut lessons three times a week in a 14-month course, Okalik said. Three assistant deputy ministers are also taking classes. Inuktitut is he first language of 85 per cent of the territory's population.

"We felt that that was enough time," he said. "I recall when I was learning English, I didn't have much help so it's about time that our language was respected and treated in the same way."

Education Minister Ed Picco, one of the few non-Inuit in the Nunavut territorial assembly, has been increasing his use of Inuktitut in the legislature. He says he backs the premier's move. "He's not saying that other languages cannot be used," he said. "He wants to have the fully bilingual system in place."

Hunter Tootoo, who doesn't speak Inuktitut, thinks the policy goes too far. The Iqaluit Centre MLA supports the territory's goal of having it as the government's working language by 2020, but questions the method employed.

"I think the way to achieve that is not by taking the language and forcing on somebody," he said. "I think if we do things, like make changes in the education system, you won't have to teach them Inuktitut, they'll be from here," he said.

Nevertheless, the premier said, he's starting with top senior staff, and the Inuktitut language requirement will eventually reach those in the levels below.

For Inuit art from Nunavut, see Free Spirit Gallery

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some Inuit Parents Oppose Teachings of Evolution

After some parents of Inuit children complained, science teacher Alexandre April has been reprimanded by his Ikusik High School principal for discussing evolution in class. The parents from Salluit, an Inuit village in northern Quebec Arctic of 1,150, are angry that their children are being taught that humans come from apes. Their concerns have pitted the religious Inuit population against a Quebec education system that's becoming increasingly secular. In the meantime, Quebec's scientific community is rallying behind the 32-year-old science teacher. "I am a biologist ... this is what I'm passionate about,' said April, who vows to continue telling his Inuit students about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

See Free Spirit Gallery's nice collection of Inuit art

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Salmon Fish Moving North To Arctic

As another possible result of global warming, salmon fish have turned up in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Scientists say salmon and other marine life are responding to warmer waters and reduced ice in the Bering Sea and the Beaufort Sea.

Last summer near Nome, Alaska, fishery biologists noted a huge increase in pink salmon runs in the region’s rivers and streams. A record 1.6 million pink salmon passed by a counting station in the North River. A survey conducted in the mid-1990s in the Barrow area counted 6 king salmon and 51 pink salmon fish. Another survey later in 2003 in the same area there found 439 king salmon and 18,048 pink salmon.

A team of U.S. and Canadian researchers, in the March 10 edition of the journal Science, said shrinking ice, warmer air and water temperatures in the northern Bering Sea are leading to an expansion in pollock, a bottom-feeding fish and in pink salmon, which feed on pollock.

"Local observations indicate that pink salmon are now colonizing rivers that drain into the Arctic Ocean north of Bering Strait," the article says.

For more information on the importance of salmon to the Northwest cultures, see Salmon in Northwest Native Indian Art and Culture.

For artwork, see Northwest Native Indian Art Salmon Carvings.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Eskimo Art Inuit Art Video on IFILM and YouTube

The Eskimo art or Inuit art video produced by Free Spirit Gallery can also be seen at the IFILM and YouTube video websites. They are at;

Eskimo Art Inuit Art Video at IFILM

Eskimo Art Inuit Art Video at YouTube

These are just alternative locations to see the video in addition to the page at the Free Spirit Gallery site.

Monday, June 05, 2006

To View American Indian Art Videos With Slow Connections

For those with slower internet connections, the Inuit and American Indian art videos recently launched at the Free Spirit Gallery website may play in spurts stopping and starting throughout the videos. In these cases, it is recommended to click on the pause button after the video starts. Allow the video to completely download as you will see a dark bar move across at the bottom. Go do something else for a few minutes while the video file downloads. After the file is downloaded, click the play button again and the video should now play uninterrupted.

These videos show examples of Inuit and American Indian art that is available at Free Spirit Gallery. All pieces are authentic and were made by Inuit or American Indian master artisans.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Video of Inuit Art Sculptures Ready

A video on Inuit art is finally available at the Free Spirit Gallery website. This video shows a collection of different Inuit sculptures on a rotating pedestal to show different angles of the pieces. This video can be viewed directly from the website at Inuit Art Video.

Some of the pieces on this video are available for sale while some are not. The Free Spirit Gallery website will always show which pieces are indeed available for sale at its gallery section.

There are 'Tell a Friend' links for both the Inuit art video and the Northwest Native Indian art video. Please use these links to let others know since the artists who produced these fine works of art can use all the exposure they can get.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

How One Alaskan Native American Turned Life Around

Quentin Simeon, 29, was born to two half-Native American, half-white parents and calls himself a "half-breed." He grew up a depressed and troubled teen in Alaska without an identity. At one point, he lived in shelters or slept on the streets. Quentin's life changed after winning first place in the 2002 Native Oratory Society contest with a self-reflective speech called "A Glimpse into a Tannish-Brown Soul."

Winning that contest sparked Simeon to talk about his culture, said Dan Henry, who founded NOS. "The more he spoke, the more he realized who he was," Henry said. Simeon soon began speaking at town gatherings. In the middle of one youth and elders conference, Simeon's father walked in. The two hadn't seen each other in a long time, and Simeon talked through his tears while speaking directly to his dad ... "Something to the effect that, 'Dad, I really needed you,'" Henry recalls. Simeon was exposing a topic often taboo, Henry said. "People knew this was going on -- obvious from statistics -- but no one had really talked about it so frankly and so personally," he said, recalling the audience's tears. "He was clear about his father's absence without being harsh about his father. It was a very honorable way to go. There wasn't anger in there."

A few weeks ago, Quentin received his bachelor's degree from the University of Alaska/Anchorage honors program while his wife and two children looked on. "I never expected to attend or even graduate from college," he told the audience. Simeon is now a cultural programs manager for the Native Heritage Center, where he has worked for three years. The job is a great fit for where he is in his life -- embracing an endangered Native way of life, he said.

See wonderful Native American art from the northwest at Free Spirit Gallery

Friday, June 02, 2006

Northwest Native American Tlingit Tribe To Help Find Site

Archaeologists at Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska have unearthed musket shot and cannonballs where they believe Northwest Native American Tlingit Indians built a wooden palisade fort. In October, 1804, the Kiks.Dadi clan held off Russian attackers for six days until their ammunition was spent. On the sixth night, the story goes, the Russians heard a mournful ceremonial song rising from the fort. By morning, 800 women, children, elders and warriors had departed for the far side of their island home and to an island beyond. That retreat ended open Tlingit resistance to the Russians and ushered in what some call the Russian America period in Alaska.

Irene Jimmy, a Northwest Native American Tlingit elder from Sitka and a descendant of the warring Kiks.Dadi clan, remembers hearing about the Battle of Sitka as a child. But she learned less about the details and more about the powerful emotions inside her people. "I got little bits of information from my mother, but it was such a sad, sad thing for her to repeat it," she said. "She would get tearful when she talked about it." Though clan members have been long silent about the events, Jimmy and others are now cooperating with the National Park Service to pinpoint the location of the fort.

See Northwest Native American Art at Free Spirit Gallery

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Canadian Aboriginal Tribe Wants Excavation Stopped

The Canadian aboriginal Huron-Wendat Nation tribe is asking the province of Ontario to stop archaeologists from excavating an area in Vaughan just north of Toronto. The Huron-Wendat says the site, which is now slated for housing, is on a significant 15th century Huron village. "I want people to have respect for our ancestors and our culture and heritage," said John Sioui, a grandson of the Huron-Wendat Bear Clan family of chiefs. The village site, called Skandatut, was home to as many as 2,000 Huron and could contain remnants of some 100 longhouses, said archaeologist Andrew Stewart. The tribe's attorney, David Donnelly, said the Huron-Wendat are concerned that irreplaceable historical, cultural and spiritual artifacts will be destroyed if the excavation proceeds. The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Federal government is looking into the matter.

For excellent contemporary native art, see Canadian Aboriginal Art at Free Spirit Gallery