The Virtual Coe Being together while being apart....
July 10, 2020
Price $5.00 cash...

This diminutive Totem Pole Model was created by the great artist, chief, and cultural leader Willie Seaweed ( Hiłamas or Smoky Top ), who was born around 1873 in the remote Kwakwaka´wakw village of Blunden Harbour, British Columbia

This pole shows a bear munching on a salmon surmounted by a dramatic thunderbird, all very precisely crafted in Seaweed’s signature style. On the back of the pole remain faint pencil notes, “Willie Seaweed, From Blunden Harbor, Price $5.00 Cash.”
Hiłamas (Willie Seaweed or Smoky Top) (´Nak´waxda´xw Kwakwaka´wakw), Totem Pole Model, c. 1940s. Wood, enamel paint, and pencil inscription, 8 x 5.75 (wings) x 2 in. NA1023

There were three giant brothers
born at Cape Espenberg...

James Kivetoruk Moses (1903-1981) was a self-taught Inupiaq painter who created profoundly perceptive narrative works about the Seward Peninsula region of northern Alaska and its Indigenous peoples, histories, and environment. The Coe Center is planning an exhibition of his to open summer 2021 .

This image depicts the story of The Giant Eskimo —the story of three brothers . The term "Eskimo" is no longer used for Inupiaq people or as a general term for all circum-polar Indigenous populations.

Accompanying the piece is a hand-written narrative probably recorded by his wife and embraces Kivetoruk Moses spoken word. To read this story click here .


James Kivetoruk Moses (Inupiaq, Seward Peninsula, Nome Region, Alaska), The Eskimo Giant , c. 1970. Pen and Ink on cardboard. Private collection.

To me, this piece is interesting because of how many different things are connected to it ...

The people of Borneo believe that a baby’s soul does not attach to its body until a certain age. Because of this, hawats are used to protect, and form a strong bond between the baby and its spirit.

The hawat’s hanging attachments are used to attract good spirits, ...while the sounds they make are meant to ward away any bad spirits that could otherwise cause the child sickness or death.

To me, this piece is interesting because of how many different things are connected to it. This carriage was probably used for a child of status because only the children of higher-ranking families were allowed tiger’s teeth and such ornate decoration.

—Alexis Willis, Hands-On student curator, 2015


Artist Unknown (Dayak), Baby Carrier (Hawat or Ba’), 20th C. Wood, shell, teeth, beads, ceramic, coins, buttons, fur, metal, and rattan, 15.5 x 19.75 x 8 in. (39.4 x 50.2 x 20.3 cm). AS0077


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The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts is a private operating 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the Internal Revenue Code. Please donate online or mail checks to the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, 1590 B Pacheco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Your support creates connection. Thank you.

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