CHRIS COOK III
Ogwilagamey (Chris Cook III) was born in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay) and is a hereditary chief of the ‘Namgis. Being born into a high ranking and traditional family, Cook is an avid storyteller and historian – a gift that he is able to harness through his creativity. As a child, Cook loved sketching, and studied metal work and machinery while in high school. In 1998, he received his BA in History from the University of Victoria, and was also enrolled in the silversmith courses at Camosun College while he was at UVIC. His prior metal working skills and sketching abilities were soon realized, and he was eagerly designing and producing art jewellery full time.
Cook credits Francis Dick for encouraging him to apply his metal working skills with Kwakwaka’wakw design. He was one of the first ‘Namgis artists to start inlaying semi-precious gem stones into his jewellery, something that has become a signature of his workmanship. Cook has spent many years refining his skills as a jeweler, even traveling to Italy to apprentice with the famous Bulgarian Silversmith Valentin Yotkov.
More recently, Cook has been experimenting with a metal-rolling technique, creating unique copper pendants with abstract designs. He has crafted many unusual pieces from silver, including silver goblets, beautiful lockets, a silver adorned headdress and even an exquisite gold and emerald dragonfly urn-pendant with a hollow body for holding ashes. Innovative, professional and prolific, Chris Cook III is dedicated to producing quality pieces, and has made a number of custom ordered rings, bracelets and pendants for us. If you are interested in commissioning a piece by Cook, please contact us for more information. Cook speaks and teaches Kwak’wala, and is active in his community as a dancer, singer and historian.
2006-2007: Totems to Turquoise:Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest; American Museum of Natural History
2011: Chasing Form: New Directions in Repousse; Group Exhibition – Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria BC
Amber Raven Ring by Chris Cook III
The Kwa’wala word for Wolf is u’ligan. Wolf is the ancestor of the Dzawada’enuxw people of Gwa’yi (Kingcome Inlet) and the Haxwa’mis of Wakeman Sound. Historical accounts speak of the wolf who survived the great flood by ascending a high mountain, and began howling to see if anyone would answer. It was the Gusgimukw who answered the call and this was when wolves changed into men and became the ancestors of the Dzawada’enuxw and Haxwa’mis. Though the wolf dance was not shared for many years outside of the family, it has now been gifted to several families from other villages that now have rights to the Wolf Dance and its forty songs.
Often viewed as sly and cunning, clever Wolf is a storyteller known for valuing kinship. The social organization of wolves is very similar to both Killer Whales and Humans, as they mate for life and travel in packs. They are fierce protectors of their young, and cooperate as a team.
Abstract Wolf and Bear designs can look quite similar, so always look for a long snout, a small, elegant paw, and a long tail vs a short snout, claw and short tail seen on bear designs.
Franz Boas Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America: A Translation of Franz Boas' 1895 Edition of Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Kuste Amerikas (2006)
Campbell River Museum & Archives
U'mista Cultural Centre Museum Online Resources