I am extremely privileged to consider many of the Hunt family members friends of mine, starting with Chief Tony Hunt, Tom, Calvin, Stanley, Trevor, Jason, George, John Livingston, Tony Jr., Henry Jr., etc..... This privilege allows me to work with the artists on a personal basis. It also allows me to request customize pieces of art for my customers. During many visits to the homes of the artists, some of them in the northern parts of Vancouver Island, and invitations to various events, such as potlatches, naming ceremonies etc., I am able to understand, not only the mythology but also the meaning behind the art-piece itself. While I am still learning, this knowledge allows me to acquire pieces of art which do not diverse from the tradition, a very important factor in dealing with the First Nations community. Below is a summary of the Hunt Family, the most important historical and artistic family in the Pacific Northwest.
The Hunt Family gained international recognition through its oldest member, George Hunt. George was born in 1854 at Fort Rupert, British Columbia, the second of eleven children of Robert Hunt, a Hudson's Bay Company fur trader from Dorset, England, and Mary Ebbetts (Ansnaq) (1823-1919), a member of the Raven clan of the Taantakwáan tribe of the Tlingit nation. Years later, George became a consultant to the American anthropologist Franz Boas with whom he collected hundreds of Kwakiutl artefacts for an exhibit at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. George was considered a linguist and ethnologist in his own right. Through marriage and adoption he became an expert on the traditions of the Kwakwaka'wakw (then known as "Kwakiutl") of coastal British Columbia. During his lifetime, George wrote thousands of pages of description of Kwakiutl culture over the next decades. Thus he incidentally founded one of the most important native families in the Pacific Northwest. Today, the Hunt family comprises of a large number of internationally acclaimed artists.
In the late 19th and early 20th century wealthy people began to collect Pacific Northwest Indian art and totem poles. Chicago business man James L. Kraft, the founder of Kraft Inc., donated a Kwakiutl totem pole to the city of Chicago, and it was installed in a waterfront park in 1929. Forty feet high, it was carved in traditional fashion from a single cedar pole. After many decades it was deteriorating. Kraft, Inc. commissioned a replacement and the original pole was sent to British Columbia for study and preservation in 1985, as its historical and artistic value was considerable. George Hunt's descendant Tony Hunt sr., a Kwakwaka'wakw hereditary chief and artist, in 1986 carved a replacement totem pole, replicating the original design and colors. It was installed at the lakeside park. Hunt's work is also held by the St. Louis Art Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Chicago's Field Museum, a totem pole for the German government installed in Bonn, in addition to many private collectors.
George Hunt's descendants also include Dr. Gloria Cranmer-Webster and the filmmaker Barbara Cranmer. In addition, the Hunt dynasty of traditional Northwest Coast artists includes Henry Hunt, his sons Tony Hunt sr., Stanley C. Hunt, and Richard Hunt; their second cousin, Calvin Hunt, Mervin Childs and Corrine Hunt. Corinne designed all of the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics games. Today's generation of the Hunt Dynasty include renowned artist such as John Livingstone (adopted), Tom (Tommy) Hunt, George Hunt jr., Henry Hunt jr., David Mungo Knox, Tony Hunt jr., Trevor Hunt and last, but not least Jason Henry Hunt.
Jason Henry Hunt followed in the footsteps of his elders when he took up carving. Now, he's the latest member of his family to have a connection with the Royal Family. Hunt carved one of his designs into the face of a unique wooden fishing reel handcrafted by Peetz Outdoors in Victoria. The mahogany reel was selected as a departing gift for the Royals as they wrap up their Canadian visit in 2015. Hunt's reel carving was commissioned as part of an artists series. A portion of the proceeds from the reels go to fund salmon enhancement projects in the Pacific Northwest.
The Hunt family has also been part of royal gifts in the past. In 1958, a totem pole that was carved by Hunt's grandfather, Henry Hunt and his great-grandfather Chief Mungo Martin of the Kwagiulth First Nation, was gifted by Canada to Queen Elizabeth II as part of British Columbia's Centennial celebration. The 30-metre pole was placed at Windsor Great Park in England and a matching pole was installed in Vancouver.
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