“It is so important that we as Native people hold on to and be proud of the beautiful culture we come from and more importantly, we are responsible to pass it on to the next generation – It belongs to all of us.”
David has made a commitment to share and teach what he has learned to ensure the continuation and survival of a history and art that was almost lost. David has taught numerous classes throughout the years on Northwest Coast Native design, carving of art including classes for beginners and experienced carvers to make masks, rattles, panels, bentwood boxes and bowls.
David’s class goals include learning to carve objects but also to learn the art, history, and to produce quality work but more importantly for artists to put art to use in dance groups, feasts, potlatches and other cultural events.
Sm’algyax is the language of the Tsimshian people. David’s efforts to revive this beautiful language, that has been on the verge of extinction, has been to host language classes in Seattle and Alaskan communities of Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Juneau and Anchorage.
“I have been fortunate to do what I love for over 40 years and I still become full of awe and excitement to learn, teach, speak, experience and live a culture that I love.
I have much more to learn and create and will listen to the old voices as they tell us “create us again, use us again, celebrate us again”.
David formed the Git Hoan Dancers in his efforts to revive, practice and share the Tsimshian way of life that was once forbidden.
The Git Hoan Dancers showcase the magnificence of Tsimshian art, resurrect the practice of the culture and educate the world that Native culture is diverse and a living art and culture. The Git Hoan performance uses song and dance sharing the legends while entertaining and educating.
David was fortunate to grow up with his grandparents, who spoke the language with him. The language of Sm’algyax is on the verge of extinction with less than 100 fluent speakers in the universe. David fears the loss of language for his people and has made efforts to revive Sm’algyax.
David continues to study the language and has taught Sm’algyax to communities throughout Alaska and in Seattle in hopes to inspire young generations learn to carry on the language.
David has written songs for the Git Hoan Dancers and uses the language as he shares his culture in performances throughout the world.
One of David’s main goals is preserving and honoring the mindset and culture of his native peoples’ ancestors. Keeping that in mind, David was very dedicated to carving a totem pole which would have meaning for ourselves and our family. We actually ended up commissioning two totem poles. It was very obvious that David is a true professional and pays painstaking attention to every detail of his work.
– Larry Handt