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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 1, 2002 - Issue 62


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Indian Carvers Captivate

by Kate Reardon Herald Writer
credits:Photo by Dan Bates / The Herald
American Indian artist Ralph Bennett chisels the yellow cedar treeAmerican Indian artist Ralph Bennett chisels the yellow cedar tree, forming rough outlines of a bear and a medicine man's face.

"Every single person on this planet comes from a tribal culture," Bennett said Tuesday to elementary school children.

The Haida Indian loves sharing his culture and encourages others to learn about their own cultures.

His carvings and paintings are on display along with works by other artists through June 27 at the Snohomish Arts Council's Indian art exhibit, "Yesterday & Today: Transitions."

Bennett, of Woodinville, and Tlingit Indian Fred Fulmer, of Juanita, are sharing stories and art with more than 2,200 school children for the next two weeks at the Everett Center for the Arts.

During the tour, students visit with the carvers, make prints on paper and view various artwork, including totem poles, masks and paintings.

On Tuesday, students visiting the exhibit were from Whittier and Hawthorne elementary schools.

Fourth-grader Elise Tuerk, a 10-year-old who attends Hawthorne, said the exhibit inspired her.

"It's so cool to learn about your heritage because there's so much to learn," she said.

Fourth-grader Jesse Sorensen, also of Hawthorne, said it was great seeing real-life wood carvers and their masks and totem poles.

"I've only seen these kind of carvings in books," she said.

Bennett said sharing cultures and heritage is important.

"If you know more about me, and I know more about you, that's what a community is," he said.

Bennett is an award-winning artist whose work has been on display in the San Francisco Palace of Fine Art and the Seattle's Burke Museum.

When he was 4 years old, Bennett began carving staves used for smoking salmon. He comes from a long line of wood carvers who designed totem poles, canoes, paddles, masks, headdresses and staffs.

Amelia Kent, a fifth-grader at Whittier, said the exhibit is exciting.

"It's nice to see how they represent their heritage," she said, adding that she knows a little about her heritage, too. Her ancestors were from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England.

Seven of Amelia's classmates have ties to American Indian tribes.

Amelia's teacher, Jocelyn Sievers, said she believes the exhibit will spark some questions from her students.

"I hope it helps them want to ask their parents about their own heritage," she said.

Exhibit information:
"Yesterday & Today: Transitions," a traditional and contemporary American Indian art exhibit, runs through June 27 at the Everett Center for the Arts at the Monte Cristo, 1507 Wall St. in Everett. Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call the Arts Council of Snohomish County at 425-257-8380.

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