Since 2012, Shawn has sculpted five bark sturgeon-nose canoes harvested from ancestral forests. His hands on recovery knowledge of the diverse styles of this bark canoe includes the materiality used in construction, the aesthetic considerations in sculptural form, as well as the historical patterns of how the canoe type was employed by ancestors. Because of the scarcity of canoe quality bark, Shawn developed a contemporary canoe interpretation in 2013 with a unique frame assemblage and fabric skin attachment method known as a Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe, with over 30 in circulation across the northern Plateau culture region.
For the recently acquired Burke Museum canoe, Shawn was inspired by a Shuswap ethnography report by James Teit. The report stated that smaller canoes were covered with a full sheet of birch bark, although large western white pine and spruce trees were plentiful in that territory for covering larger canoes. To honor his Shuswap (tk’emlúps te secwepemc) ancestry, Shawn covered the canoe with a full sheet of birch bark for the Burke Museum Artist-In-Residence opportunity. To honor his Kalispel Indian ancestry from Cusick, WA, Shawn employed the bitter cherry bark-lashing pattern unique to the Kalispel.
Currently, Shawn is working on his publishing aspirations with a book chapter invite, various feature opportunities, as well as the development of a book proposal as a personal legacy project specific to his canoe recovery work. To learn more about Shawn’s work visit the following links:
Carving a Canoe from a Single Cedar Tree (Burke Museum)