The Life of A Northwest Coast ArtistBook - 2003
Don Smith - or Lelooska , as he was usually called - was a prominent Native American artist and storyteller in the Pacific Northwest. Born in 1933 of "mixed blood" Cherokee heritage, he was adopted as an adult by the prestigious Kwakiutl Sewid clan and had relationships with elders from a wide range of tribal backgrounds. Initially producing curio items for sale to tourists and regalia for Oregon Indians, Lelooska emerged in the late 1950s as one of a handful of artists who proved crucial to the renaissance of Northwest Coast Indian art. He also developed into a supreme performer and educator, staging shows of dances, songs, and storytelling. During the peak years, from the 1970s to the early 1990s, the family shows with Lelooska as the centerpiece attracted as many as 30,000 people annually.
In this book, historian and family friend Chris Friday shares and annotates interviews that he conducted with Lelooska , between 1993 and ending shortly before the artist's death, in 1996. This is the story of a man who reached, quite literally, a million or more people in his lifetime and whose life was at once exceptional and emblematic.