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UPDATE: June 2017 Our new publication "Welcome Family and Friends to Our Bighouse" is ready for shipping.

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Welcome Family and Friends to Our Bighouse by Nella Nelson

potlatch front cover
Click on pictures for higher resolution

About the Book:

Along the Pacific Northwest Coast, from Alaska through British Columbia to Washington, there are several related, yet diverse, aboriginal cultures (First Nations). Prior to contact with Europeans, these peoples had developed complex social systems, wide trade routes, economic prosperity, and one of the most complex art forms in the world. The Potlatch (traditional First Nations business) and the Winter Ceremonies are the vehicles for cultural connections all along the Coast. Our story-teller, Gana, explains, “My family has been planning this p`asa (Potlatch) for years and saving to buy gifts for our guests. In some ways, the p`asa is a lot like a party but instead of people bringing us gifts, we give gifts to everyone who comes. There are songs, dances, plays, and stories. But also, there are marriages, funerals, naming ceremonies, birth announcements, re-telling of our histories, reminders of our culture, wearing the outfits that our ancestors wore, showing and giving away blankets, large pieces of copper, tools, canoes, jewellery, masks, food, toys and other gifts. The family asks everyone who comes to remember everything they saw. That’s what the gifts are for. They are a kind of payment to remember. This custom comes from a time when my people didn’t write things down to remember them. People had very good memories. They told important facts and stories to their kids and their kid’s kids. Nowadays, I can read facts and stories in books, see them on DVD and movies, as well as hearing about them from my elders.”

Potlatch front cover
Price $21.95 CAD & USD
   ISBN 978-097367699-0.

Nella Nelson Nella Nelson

About the author:
Nella Cook Nelson, originally from the N’amgis Nation, was born and raised in Alert Bay, B.C. Her father George Cook is from the Tsakis N’amgis and K’ómoks Nations and her mother, Ruth Sewid-Mundy, descends from the Da’naxda’xw and the Mamallikula Nations. After marrying Alex Nelson in 1972, Nella became part of the Dzawataineuk Nation of Kingcome Inlet. She has a daughter Tasha, and grandsons Gigalis, Braden, Dallas and Zayden. Over the years Nella and Alex have taken in and cared for 29 children from their home territories. It wasn’t until Nella was in grade 4 that integration occurred and aboriginal students were allowed to attend the public schools. When she was 12-years-old, the first Bighouse since the anti-potlatch law had been lifted was built in Alert Bay. Watching it being built was a highlight of her childhood. Nella attended both Camosun College and the University of Victoria. When she started teaching in public schools in 1979, aboriginal content didn’t exist. After 11 years teaching, she coordinated the Victoria School District’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division for 27 years. She serves on Provincial, college, university, community boards and advisory committees to improve aboriginal health, safety and education. Nella has recieved the Queen’s 125 Commemorative Medal, YM/YWCA Women of Distinction, Camosun’s Distinguished Alumni, and Excellence in Cultural Heritage & Diversity Awards. Nella’s motto is: “We strive to put a new memory into the minds of our children.” Gilakasla

Karin Clark Karin Clark

About the illustrator:
Karin Clark is a writer, teacher, and artist with over 35 years experience working with both children and adults. She learned from and taught with British Columbia’s First Nations in public and private schools, colleges, and art classes, as well as university teacher education programs. She co-wrote the book Framework for Developing First Nations Curriculums with Nella Cook Nelson as well as 30 other books as author or co-author. With a primary focus on building bridges of understanding among cultures, Karin has written and published books about how to appreciate as well as how to draw, paint and carve in the artistic styles of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations. In an ideal world, everyone would experience a Potlatch or sit and listen to elders teach us about it. Karin regards this book as a family book to be shared. The children and adults in this story are all different ages and at different stages of knowing and learning about Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Parents, grandparents, older and younger siblings and cousins, as well as older and younger friends can read it and learn together. We can all learn about this fascinating culture as we read Gana’s story. Karin concurs with Nella’s observation that, “In a time when technology plays an integral role in the lives of all people, it is important for children and youth to remember the teachings of their ancestors and to keep themselves grounded in their ancestral stories and their sense of place.”
   ISBN 978-097367699-0.

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Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing? By Karin Clark

What Am I Seeing front cover What Am I Seeing back cover
Click on pictures for higher resolution

Illustrates ten well-known objects and nineteen crest designs from the Pacific Northwest Coast along with meanings and stories. Identifies seven main design elements along with variations. 112 colour illustrations and photos, 6.5" x 8.5" soft cover, 64 pages.
Price $14.95 CAD & $14.95 US    ISBN 978-0-9736769-4-5.

German version front cover German version back cover
Also available in German, price $14.95 CAD & USD
   ISBN 978-0-9736769-5-2.

10 Abbildungen von Bekanten Gebrauchsgegenstaenden und 19 Wappen-Zeichnungen der Pazifischen Nordwestkuesten-Indianer mit Erklaerungen zu ihren Bedeutungen und ueberlieferten Legenden. Beschreibungen von 7 traditionellen Musterteilen und ihren verschiedenen Variationen. 112 farbige Abbildungen und photos. 16.5 cm x 21.5 cm, 64 Seiten.
Preis $14.95 CAD & $14.95 US    ISBN 978-0-9736769-5-2.


UPDATE: Oct 16, 2007 Our new publication "Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing" is now available and has also been translated into German - "Die Kunst der Indianer an der pazifischen Nordwestkueste." Both books began shipping on Oct 19th. 2007.
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  This guide book, designed to give you a glimpse of Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal art, will give you a deeper understanding and whet your appetite for learning more about today's vibrant, complex aboriginal cultures. Three sections show you where to look to identify many of the things you will see--from three-dimensional objects like bentwood boxes, ceremonial houses, masks and canoes, to crest designs, to the main design elements in Pacific Northwest Coast aboriginal art.

Price: $14.95 Cdn     $14.95 U.S.



UPDATE: April 25, 2005 The first set of our cross-stitch books began shipping on April 25th. 2005.
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Karin and Jim's collection Click here for larger image
Cross stitch book 1, of a series by Sheron Ruffell. The second book will be out in summer of 2005

  The first of a series, this book contains the three full-size colour cross-stitch patterns from the West, Mid, and North Coast shown on the front cover. Patterns are full size and are approximately 37 cm x 27 cm (14" x 11") with each based on accurate, tradional designs. Also included is a First Nations area map, Aboriginal art within a cultural context, Aboriginal designs used in cross stitch explanation, illustrated cross stitch instructions.
Soft cover, 8 1/2" x 11",   36 pages.

Price: $19.95 Cdn     $19.95 U.S.

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UPDATE: October 25th/2002 Learning by Designing Volume 2 (see below) is now in stock and being shipped.
The cost is the same as Volume 1: $32.95 Canadian + GST (also $32.95 in the USA ) + shipping
For international shipping it is best to contact us for an exact quote.
We have shipped to Africa, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Karin and Jim's collection Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 2
by Karin Clark and Jim Gilbert

  This companion manual to Volume 1 puts First Nations art into deeper cultural context, providing Native Indian philosophy, knowledge and skills foundation, code of ethics, and interviews with a contemporary First Nations family, as well as some aspects of historical context and a description of the Potlatch. A full colour, 16-page creation story with 20 designs is included. Additional topics include: contemporary design evolution with 50 examples, 20 designs to draw and paint, and a Quick Reference Chart containing over 100 designs. Durable soft cover, 176 pages.

Here are some of the reviews we have received so far:


Reviewed by Reg Ashwell
Freelance writer and Northwest Coast art dealer and collector,
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Those collectors and admirers of Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian art who enjoyed Volume 1 of Learning By Designing by Jim Gilbert and Karin Clark are in for an even greater treat now that Volume 2 has arrived. For those latecomers who have not yet read Volume 1, it is highly recommended that they read it first and then carry on to the companion Volume 2, which is so essentially a follow up of the previous book. I particularly enjoyed Karin Clark's moving column on the late and great Jim Gilbert in which she pays tribute to the artist's prodigious efforts to further world wide appreciation of the art of the Pacific Northwest Coast native Indian people. In Volume 2, we are treated to warm and wonderfully informative interviews with First Nations people such as Ruth Cook, George Cook, Nella Nelson and Wedlidi Speck. Particularly fascinating is a Four Worlds Colour Section with original black and white illustrations by Jim Gilbert. It is a Pacific Northwest Coast native Creation Story as told by Wedlidi Speck and magnificently rendered in four hand-painted colour sections by Ron Stacy. Wedlidi Speck is a born story teller whose prose, as told from a First Nations perspective, makes colourful and captivating reading. Below is a quote from what he has to say about the human element of the "fourth world". "Seekers of sacred knowledge and truth, throw yourself in the promise that is you; as an acorn, a tree awaits; as an egg a salmon becomes. You are an ember enroute to becoming a sacred fire. Let the journey begin." Let the journey begin indeed. There is so much information packed into this extremely well- written and exhaustively researched second volume, I found myself reading many pages twice, just to make sure that I had absorbed all of the fascinating text. And those hundreds of exquisitely rendered illustrations by Jim Gilbert are superbly enhanced in Volume 2 by the artistry of Ron Stacy, who has been happily immersing himself in the study of Pacific Northwest Coast native art for many years. Kudos to Karin Clark and the late Jim Gilbert, whose tireless efforts and endless research have resulted in two classic volumes which are surely destined to find their way as valued additions to libraries, schools, cultural institutions and other places of learning throughout North America.

Reviewed by: W.F. (Bill) Judt,
relief carver,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

I am even more impressed with this volume than the last. If offers so many new tools and insights that allow one to create imaginative and lively designs that incorporate the numerous elements of the art form. I can see this volume generating a lot of interest in my relief carving classes. The carver in me got really excited at what I found between page 51 in the "introduction to design" chapter and the "quick reference charts" ending on page 152. The patterns are beautiful and the combinations almost endless. I especially liked the design ideas in the sections on "elements - rain, clouds, etc" and "Trees and Costal Islands. Beautiful.

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Learning by Designing, Pacific NW Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 2
About the Authors
Overview of Learning by Designing

Building on a First Nations Foundation
Traditional First Nations Code of Ethics
Twelve Principles of Aboriginal Philosophy
First Nations Knowledge and Skills Foundation

Four Worlds Colour Section
Aboriginal Art within a Cultural Context
Talking with one contemporary First Nations Family

Ruth Cook
George Cook
Nella Nelson
Wedlidi Speck

Introduction to Design
Evolution and Formation of Design Shapes
Evolution of the Ovoid - The Salmon Egg/Salmon Head Theory
Two-Dimensional Design Styles
Semi-Realistic Design Styles
Extended and Rearranged Design Styles
Myth Interpretation /Reading a Rearranged Design
Reading a Two-Dimensional Design
Overlapping - Depth and Perspective
Perspective - Birds Wings and Tails
The Elements - Rain, Clouds, Snow, Water, Ocean
Trees and Coastal Islands
Painting and Colours
Basketry Designs - Geometric, Decorative, Animal, Woven or Painted
Decorated Garments
Decorative Garments - Button and Applique
Contemporary Garments

Culture & Art Style Regions of the Pacific Northwest Coast
Map: Four Major Art Style Regions of the Pacific Northwest Coast

Full Designs in the Style of the Four Art Areas
North Coast Designs
Killer Whale

Mid Coast Designs
Killer Whale

South Coast Designs
Killer Whale

West Coast of Vancouver Island Designs
Killer Whale

Summary Chart
Quick Reference Charts
Mythological Creatures
Natural Elements and Heavenly Bodies
Sea Creatures

Appendix A: Some Aspects of History of the Coastal First Peoples
Appendix B: The Potlatch


Karin Clark, Raven Publishing
P.O. Box 325,
5581 Horne Rd.
Union Bay, B.C. V0R 3B0
Ph. 250-335-1708
Fax 250-335-1710
Toll Free 1-877-333-0723

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Update: June 2002
Our 3rd book, "Learning by Designing, Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 2" is being edited at this time. As long as we can hold to our schedule the first printing for this book will be in the fall of 2002. All customers having purchased previous books directly from us will be advised when this printing begins, as it usually takes a month before the first run arrives. We thank all of our customers and we value each of the positive comments we have received from you.
Karin Clark, Raven Publishing.

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Created April 23th 1996, last update: June 16th., 2017.

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