Northern Style Bentwood Box, 1972, by Tsungani (Fearon Smith)
Northern Style Bentwood Box, 1972, Tsungani (Fearon Smith), bentwood red cedar, pigment, brass, leather, 11.5” high x 7.75" wide x 7.75" deep
Tsungani, Fearon Smith Jr. or "Smitty" is the younger brother of Lelooska and Patty Fawn. Tsungani, meaning "he who excels" was given a very important Kwakiutl name, Qa7axtal'es , in 1968. Qa7axatal'es implying "young herald" is translated as "He who arises early and invites the people into the house to eat". 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 Indian arts, it was natural for him to fall in step with the rest of the family and become an artist. He is a skilled artist in all mediums of Northwest Coast Indian art but devotes 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.
In addition, he is deeply interested in Indian history and the history of the fur trade and has done extensive research in both fields.
Tsungani was one of the main dancers in the family's educational programs, an expert at handling 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.