Speaker Mask, c. 1950 by Chief Sam Henderson (1905-1982), Kwakwaka'wakw
Speaker Mask, c. 1950 by Chief Sam Henderson (1905-1982), Kwakwaka'wakw red cedar, pigment 13.5" high x 12" wide x 7.5" deep
Each 'namima or family group of the Kwakwaka'wakw has a designated speaker who is knowledgable about his family's privileges and history. This speaker mask represents the carvers family, and is sharing with the audience who the Henderson Family is.
Family patriarch and keeper of tradition, hereditary chief Sam Henderson was born in a Nakwaktok village in 1905. His father was Kenneth Henderson, a Scottish engineer and his mother Lucy Johnson, a high ranking Nakwatok woman. Sam himself was a high-ranking Nakwaxda’x chief amongst the Kwakwaka’wakw people. He grew up at Blunden Harbour, across from Port Hardy and Alert Bay, British Columbia.
Sam moved to Campbell River on Vancouver Island in 1934 when he married May Quocksistla, the eldest daughter of the the local Weiwaikum band of the Kwakwaka’wakw Chief John Quocksistala. Sam was a well-known master carver, and his monumental totem poles, masks, talking sticks, and other works are in private collections and museums including the Royal British Columbia Museum, UBC Museum of Anthropology, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Throughout their lives, Sam and May were dedicated to keeping their cultural heritage alive. They instilled knowledge and respect for their ancient traditions into their children. Sam’s sons Bill Henderson and the late Mark Henderson carried on the traditional art forms of carving and painting, and all of his children learned and participated in the traditional ceremonies, songs and dances of their rich culture.
Since his death in 1982, Sam’s spirit has lived on in the town of Campell River through his many totem poles that stand as public art, and his carvings in the permanent collection of the Campbell River Museum.