Mark Sixbey, Wolf Clan, carves a Tsimshian red cedar mask.

Carving a Tsimshian Red Cedar Mask


The Tsimshian people of Alaska and northern British Columbia are known for their artisanship. Their masks are coveted on the international art scene, but in reality these objects hold great ceremonial value and their sale is often contested.

Here, stripped to its bare essentials, is the mask-making process according to Mark Sixbey, Wolf Clan, as he carves a block of red cedar in Metlakatla, Alaska.

"Always make sure to be aware of where your legs are," he says, displaying his very modern knee protectors just before he has at the wood with his chisel.

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beaver's picture
Submitted by beaver on
That is such an awesome video! And such an awesome skill! Thank you for showing it here. I have quite a few skills myself but no one from my tribe is willing to learn them. They all want to just do powwow stuff and then more powwow stuff and still more powwow stuff. Only Whites from neighboring universities badger me to teach them my skills - and usually I don't like to share my knowledge with Whites because then they take advantage of us. But at least they have an interest to learn. Our tribal people, on the other hand, cannot think beyond powwows and we're losing a LOT of culture and knowledge, thanks to these powwows which are the same everywhere around the country. Perhaps if we focus less on powwows, then skills like Tsimshian mask carving will be kept alive! Thank you for showing this video!