Killer Whale Panel, 1992 by Tsungani, Cherokee / Adopted Kwakwaka'wakw
Killer Whale Panel, 1992 by Tsungani, Cherokee / Adopted Kwakwaka'wakw red cedar, pigment 38" tall x 35" wide x 5" deep
Tsungani (Fearon Smith Jr.) is the younger brother of renowned carver Lelooska (1933-1996) and jeweler Patty Fawn. When Lelooska passed away in 1996, Tsungani became clan chief of the Wiummasgum Clan of the House of Lelooska and the House of Sewide. The name Gixken meaning "Chief of Chiefs" was also passed to him.
Growing up in a family already deeply involved in native american arts, it was natural for him to fall in step with the rest of the family and become an artist. Though a skilled artist in all mediums of Northwest Coast Indian art, Tsungani chooses to devote most of his time to woodcarving. He is best known for his ceremonial masks, rattles, bentwood boxes and chests done in both traditional and contemporary styles. He particularly enjoys the creation of shaman figures and masks based on historical pieces.
Tsungani was one of the main dancers in the family's educational programs. He was an expert at handling and dancing the large, articulated masks, a skill much respected by the old people. At traditional potlatches, he was often called upon to perform with the masks.
As Clan Chief, Tsungani devotes his time to continuing the legacy of the Lelooska family. He is now the storyteller and narrator in the family educational presentations. Retired from dancing, he continues to share his vast knowledge and skills with the next generation through his carving.