the Yeil Yeik (Raven Spirit) - Tlingit Dugout Canoe

Jane Neill-Hancock

Wayne, United States

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

In reading the Smithsonian magazine, I came upon an article about this beautiful dugout canoe. This of course is my attempt to copy the image in my own way with swirls of colored pencils.

The Raven Spirit was once a 350 year old red cedar tree. Tlingit artisans dug a trough down the center of the canoe, lit a fire, let it burn awhile, and then knocked out the charred areas with an ax. Once hewed, the canoe was steamed to expand the sides and curve up the ends.

The figurehead of the Raven was chosen to represent the Tlingit legend that the raven brought light into the world.

The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimishian are the Northwest Coast Indians who inhabit the offshore islands and jagged coastline extending from the Oregon-Washington border to Yakutat Bay in the southeastern Alaska panhandle. These peoples learned to subsist on the ocean and could not survive without their canoes.

This particular Yeil Yeik canoe now is suspended from the ceiling in the Sant Ocean Hall at the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian. “Human life on earth has in many ways been a response to the challenges of the ocean world,” said anthropologist and curator Stephen Loring. The canoe is a “uniquely American watercraft and a powerful symbol of human ingenuity and accomplishment”

history of the canoe taken from the Smithsonian Magazine, September 2008

Artwork Comments

  • Malcolm Chant
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • Ana Belaj
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • Larry Davis
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
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