Willie Seaweed | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Willie Seaweed

Willie Seaweed, or Hiamas, a formal address meaning "right maker," or more commonly Kwaxitola, meaning "smoky-top," Northwest Coast artist, singer, dancer (b at Nugent Sound, BC c 1873; d at Blunden Harbour, BC 1967).

Seaweed participated in the development of southern Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) art from the "restrained" style of the 19th century to what Bill Holm describes as the "baroque period which reached its culmination in the cannibal bird masks of the 1940s and 1950s."

The years during which Seaweed practised his art were times of great change. Most of his carving was for traditional purposes. One of his best-known works is a memorial Dzoonokwa and Thunderbird pole, in the graveyard at Alert Bay. The work was executed with Seaweed's contemporary Mungo Martin in 1931. Seaweed never signed his work, but it remains identifiable because of his consistent use of 3 circles placed within one another with evenly spaced centres and black and white paint.