Charles Edenshaw

Part of the Totems to Turquoise exhibition.

Northwest Coast Masters

A Tradition Of Excellence In Silver And Gold

"We are now giving new meaning to the songs, dances, crests, and philosophies. We are updating these ideas, which is no different from what our forefathers did."
 —Robert Davidson, Haida artist

One of the most talented and influential of all Northwest Coast artists, Charles Edenshaw (birth name: Da.a xiigang; 1839–1920) helped pioneer the art of silver and gold engraving on the Northwest Coast. His masterful handling of the formline design system led to a huge demand for his bracelets among Native people up and down the coast.

In a time when Haida were threatened by smallpox epidemics and pressure from missionaries to abandon their culture, Edenshaw cultivated a market for his artwork among tourists and other outsiders. The American Museum of Natural History commissioned dozens of pieces from him for its collections, including miniature totem poles and model houses. Edenshaw's name has become synonymous with classic Northwest Coast style, and his work has inspired nearly every serious artist in the region.