Raven and Whale


  • Title: Untitled
  • Creator: Chief Nakaṕankam, Mungo Martin
  • Date: 1960
  • Location: Victoria
  • Physical Dimensions: w425 x h348 mm
  • Artist's biography: Chief Nakaṕankam, Mungo Martin, was born about 1881 in the Kwagu’ł village of Tsaxis (Fort Rupert) on the east coast of Vancouver Island. After the death of his father, Martin’smother married the Kwakwaka’wakw carver Charlie James, who was influential in Martin’s development as an artist. Mungo Martin was raised in the traditional culture of his people and was an expert carver and singer. In 1947, he was hired by the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver to restore and replicate totem poles in their collection. In 1952,when he was about 72 years old, he moved to Victoria on Vancouver Island to be Chief Carver on staff at the British Columbia Provincial Museum (now the Royal BC Museum), where he created more than two dozen poles and built Wawadiťła, a version of a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw bighouse, in Thunderbird Park. Forthe opening of Wawadiťła in 1953, Martin gave the first legal potlatch after the law against potlatching was dropped from the Indian Act in 1951. Wawadiťła continues to be used for First Nations events with the permission of Martin’s grandson. Poles carved by Mungo Martin at the Royal BC Museum are now in Athens, Mexico City,London and many other world cities. Martin died on August 16, 1962. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects when the Chief lay in state in Wawadiťła. The Canadian Navy frigate, HMCS Ottawa, carried the casket to Alert Bay for burial. As the Ottawa sailed out of Esquimalt Harbour, every ensign dipped. It was the first time in naval history that this honour had been paid a First Nations person. Mungo Martin was the first First Nations person to receive the prestigious Canada Council Medal and the second person to receive it posthumously.
  • Provenance: Royal BC Museum RBCM14429
  • Type: painting - watercolour on paper

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps