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Artist / Maker : Heron, Dean
Title : Killerwhale
Date (Execution) : 2001
Geographical Origin : Yukon Territory; British Columbia; Canada
Cultural Group : Kaska (Kaska Dena), Tlingit
Style / Period : Contemporary 1950 -
Medium / Material  : Serigraph
Support / Technique : Paper
Object Type : screen prints
Visual Description : A breaching orca, with dorsal fin in the top centre of the composition and the pectoral fin is in the bottom centre. The head and fluke of the whale are curved to create an overall arch out of the whale's body. Black, white and red colour scheme.
Accession # : U014.3.232
Width (cm) : 38.00
Height (cm) : 45.50
Depth (cm) :
Mandatory Credit : Gift from the Collection of George and Christiane Smyth
Artist Statement : "The legend of the killer whale is one that I read a few years ago, and one that has stuck in my mind ever since. It is what inspired me as I was working on this piece. According to Tlingit legend (as told by Dan and Nan Kaiper in "Tlingit: Their Art, Culture & Legends"), the creation of the killer whale happened something like this: There was a young man by the name of Noht-sy-cla-nay who had a strong connection to 'the Great Spirit.' Some feared and even resented Noht-sy-cla-nay for this, most especially two of his brothers-in-law. While on a fishing trip, these two brothers-in-law decided to do away with Noht-sy-cla-nay by rendering him unconscious and leaving him stranded on a reef where he was certain to drown when the tide came in and covered the reef entirely. However, the Chief of the Sea Lions came to his rescue and brought Noht-sy-cla-nay to their underwater village. There he lived well, but grew homesick within a short time. He begged the Chief to be returned to his village. He was granted freedom on the one condition, that he would help the sea lions from their one predator - the whale. He was instructed to create an animal that would be a whale killer (or killer whale). Noht-sy-cla-nay got to work as soon as he reached land. He began by carving a large fish out of spruce,but once completed, the animal would not come to life. Then he tried to do the same with the hemlock and red cedar, but neither of these animals would come to life either. Finally, Noht-sy-cla-nay got a great piece of yellow cedar and began to carve a 30-foot fish. He had already decided for himself that this would be his last attempt, and if this did not work he would just have to tell the Chief of the Sea Lions that he had done his best and that his debt to them had been repaid. But Noht-sy-cla-nay was fortunate in that after he had said a prayer to the Great Spirit, the yellow cedar carving of the killer whale sprang to life. It must have been very powerful as it brought the other carvings to life as well (the porpoise, the dolphin and the blackfish). Only the one, however, had the size and power to do what the Chief of the Sea Lions asked for, and that was the killer whale. Noht-sy-cla-nay had repaid his debt to the sea lions and went back to live in his village and became the Chief of the Killer Whales." - Dean Heron