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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Joseph David



First Name: Joe 

Last Name: David

Full Name: Joe David

Alternative Names: Ka-Ka-Win-Chealth (Supernatural White Wolf transforming into Killer Whale) 

Date of birth: June 30, 1946

Place of birth: Opitsaht, Meares Island, British Columbia, Canada

Community/Heritage: Tla-o-qui-aht Band of the Nuu-chah-nulth people 

Sex: Male

Art Media: totem carving, print, pastel, masks, serigraph 


Joe David was born in 1946 in Opitsaht, a Clayoquot village on Meares Island, on the western shore of Vancouver Island. In 1958, his family moved to Seattle, Washington and would continue to move frequently during his teenage years. David’s father Hyacinth was a respected chief and elder of the Clayoquot nation, and despite his geographical distance from Nuu-chah-nulth territory remained connected to the village and continued to practice traditional values and ceremonies. 

David’s grandmother was a medicine woman who predicted that he would become an artist while he was still in his infancy. In 1969, he received from his father’s family the name “Ka-Ka-Win- Chealth” (Supernatural White Wolf transforming into Killer Whale) in recognition of his commitment to carving and cultural participation.

David spent much time in museums studying and photographing old carvings and paintings from Northwest Coast tribes, particularly those from the west coast of Vancouver Island. He studied art in Seattle and San Marcos, Texas, but his interest in his own heritage led him to Bill Holm, a Northwest Coast scholar at the University of Washington, and to Duane Pasco, an early artist of the contemporary generation of Northwest Coast art, to begin an intensive study of traditional Northwest Coast objects. Their guidance helped David develop a much richer understanding of the formal design elements of Northwest Coast art. Pasco in particular encouraged David to focus on two-dimensional representation and to experiment within a variety of Northwest Coast styles. 

David became interested in the practices of other Indigenous groups across North America and internationally, and would develop a long term relationship with the Maori of New Zealand. He is dedicated to participating in contemporary ceremonies as well as lecturing on Northwest Coast art. In 2000, he was the first artist chosen for the Aboriginal Artist in Residence program at the Pilchuck Glass School. 

David is among the most respected master artists of the Northwest Coast. Fluent in both Nuu-Chah-Nulth traditions and the classical design practices of other groups on the Coast, David blends these styles into a distinctive aesthetic that often references ritual activities and significant events in his personal life. 


  • 2005: Changing Hands: Art without Reservation 2, Museum of Art and Design, New York, New York, United States
  • 2005: Engraved in Tradition, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2008: Mini-Masterworks II, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2010: Eyes for Glass: The Price Collection, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington, United States
  • 2011: Ka Ka Win Chealth: Transformations in Glass, collaborative exhibition with Preston Singletary, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2015: Not Vanishing: Contemporary Expressions in Indigenous Art, Museum of Northwest Art (MONA), La Conner, Washington, United States
  • 2015: Joe David - A Private Collection, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, United States
  • Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


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