To carve as the Coast Salish people did, you’ve got to have heart. It has also been said, “Once a carver, always a carver.” The love of cedar or whatever medium is used, the love of the stories, the adventure of the entire event, from picking up the carving tool and picking the right tree or another medium, featuring in your mind, at first, the final carved product — every work of this art becomes a work of love, not just a challenge. To say, “Once a carver, always a carver,” becomes a challenge to the workings of your mind as a young carver. Carving, no matter how long, bring more to the surface of the art than you expect. You’ve already become a storyteller or a historian once you carve, once you study the totem pole and finally cover and add your personal touch to it. Your world has expanded without your knowing it. You are already a very important person to your family and your community without knowing it. It may be better if you don’t know it. Please hear this story.
My father learned from his father, who was born in about 1846. He also learned from his grandfather Salaphalano, a priest of the Longhouse tradition who must have been born close to 1800. Without a formal education, my father built a two-story home for us. And this is how I know a carver can switch from art to building, and building may be art. And so he built this two-story house for us. Sadly, it was burned down. It was on the corner of Slater Road and Lake Terrell Road. Now that spot is empty. It was a beautiful sight to see. It had a stairway that started with a turning spiral of three steps and then fourteen to the upper level.