Carved by Gary Peterson
7.5"h. x 5.5"w. x 3.5"d. w/ stand
Among the Mamalilikala, the Village Island People, the eagle position belonged to the highest-ranking Chief in the village. Eagle is the Chief of the birds (an honour that he shares with the Woodpecker). His feather down is used in the T‡a'sala to symbolize peace.
The Eagle's Undersea Kingdom counterpart lives in the realm of "umugwe' and is depicted with green on its beak and body. The sea eagle is the caller for the Undersea Kingdom dancers and one by one calls out all the Undersea dancers at a potlatch.
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Gary Peterson is from the ‘Namgis 1st Nation. On Gary’s father Dale Peterson Sr.’s side he traces his ancestry to the nobility of the ‘Namgis, the Harris family; the U’mista Cultural Centre House façade has duplicated this family’s house front, originally belonging to the ‘Namgis Head Chief T̕łakwudłas. On his mother Dorothy nee Alfred’s side, Gary is the grandson of Hereditary ‘Namgis Chief Udzistalis Sonny Alfred, this side of his family also traces their history to the Mowachaht of the Nuchahnulth on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Gary’s maternal grandmother is Elizabeth Alfred nee Cook; Elizabeth is also from the Hunt family that traces their history to the Kwagu’ł of Fort Rupert as well as the Tłingit from Southern Tongass Island in Alaska.
Gary’s first native art teacher was Francis Dick at the T̕łisalagi’lakw ‘Namgis 1st Nation’s School. While the other kids were playing out at the playground during recess and lunchtime, Gary was observing his cousins Wayne, Bruce, and Harold Alfred as well as friends Eugene “Puggy” Isaac and Chief Don Svanvik as they carved. Gary would also go after school to watch the carvers for endless hours, while his mother and father were at work. This was a fortunate opportunity as he was sent after school to his grandmother Ethel and grandfather Alvin Alfred’s and they lived near the carving shop. Gary credits all of these people for grooming him to be the person his is today. He also acknowledges William “Wa” Wasden Jr. as one of the many, who have inspired him to becoming an artisan.
“This is all I ever wanted to be ever since I first started school and now here I am today! My first carving teacher was my cousin Joe Wilson when I was 10 years old, and then Wayne Alfred and Chief Beau Dick. I worked and apprenticed with Beau for around four years. I also worked for 5 years at Thunderbird Park at the Royal British Columbia Museum doing carving demonstrations, telling legends and explaining our culture to uninformed tourists.
Gary is a dancer and a musician. He actively participates in ceremonies amongst his people, fulfilling his role as a Hawinalał “Warrior Dancer” for his Alfred family. He loves playing the guitar and is an accomplished singer and songwriter. He is outgoing and enjoys sharing his spirit with others.