AUGUST 16, 1962


Born in 1879 at Tsaxis (Fort Rupert), Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC), Martin’s name meant a potlatch chief “ten times over,” or Datsa, meaning “grandfather.” Martin was an authority on his culture and helped renew pride in tribal heritage & traditions. His first commissioned totem pole, Raven of the Sea (circa 1900), was installed at Alert Bay, BC. In 1948, he headed the totem pole restoration program at University of BC (UBC). He also taught apprentice carvers, including Henry Hunt, Tony Hunt, and Bill Reid. In the early 1950s, Martin assisted ethnographers recording nearly 400 songs and oral histories at UBC & at the BC Provincial Museum (BCPM). He also built a traditional ceremonial big house at Thunderbird Park, BCPM. Its opening ceremonies in 1953 marked the first public potlatch since the 1885 government ban. In 1958, Martin carved the World’s Tallest Pole at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria. He died in Victoria. In 1970, a totem pole was raised in Alert Bay, in his honor.

Source:  Gerald R. McMaster, “Mungo Martin,” Canadian Encyclopedia, 10/1/2017. Retrieved 2/9/2022, Mungo Martin | The Canadian Encyclopedia
Photo:  Difference Engine, 9/12/2018. Gwaxwiwe' hamsiwe' (mask of the raven man-eater). Mungo Martin (Nakapankam), Kwakwaka'wakw, ca. 1940. Red cedar, red cedar bark, paint. Permissive Use.

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