Calvin Hunt – Talking Stick

Calvin Hunt
Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwagiulth), 1956

Talking Stick
Red cedar


Calvin Hunt (b. 1956) is descended from Kwagu’l and Mowachaht chiefs and is the grandson of renowned carver Mungo Martin and fabric artist Abayah Martin. He began woodcarving at age twelve and was an apprentice to Tony Hunt Sr. for nine years, later moving to his ancestral home near Port Hardy to open a workshop and gallery with his wife, Marie. Calvin and other family members have worked together to carve and raise totem poles for their home village. With his nephew, Mervyn Child, he has also carved a number of canoes in different styles, demonstrating his artistic versatility and his dedication to revitalizing Pacific Northwest canoe traditions.

In the 1990’s, Calvin received hereditary chieftainships from both sides of his family. In 2004, he was honored with induction into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Today, Calvin is actively engaged in woodcarving, canoe building, silkscreen printing, gold and silver jewelry-making, bronze sculpture, and stone carving. He has been a mentor to many emerging artists and a leading figure in the First Nations art world.

Talking stick.  The Talking stick, used in many Indigenous cultures, is an ancient and powerful “communication tool” that ensures a code of conduct of respect during meetings is followed. The person holding the stick, and only that person, is designated as having the right to speak and all others must listen quietly and respectfully. The talking stick is always caved with the crests of the chief who owns it. [1]A great many schools have adopted the Talking Stick principles in their classrooms as a way to teach children patience, self-discipline and to respect the speaker and his/her words. The added bonus is the children additionally are learning about First Nation culture in a tangible way. Talking sticks are most frequently used in council circles, ceremonies and at the beginning of cultural events such as potlatches, and in storytelling circles. Some cultures do not use a Talking Stick per say but use an eagle feather, wampum belt, peace pipe or sacred shell.

[1] [1] [1] [1] [1] Wyatt, Gary. Mythic Beings Spirit Art of the Northwest Coast. University of Washington Press, 1999. P. 37