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Pete Peterson: Skokomish Carver

About Pete

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In 1974 I discovered that making jewelry was quite easy for me. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to apply the Hopi method of working silver overlay to Coastal Salish design principals. I was pleased with the result. I knew that I would eventually move to working with indigenous woods, carving as my people have done for thousands of years.

At first I was tentative describing myself as an artist until I discovered that my efforts were pleasing to people I had never met. The feedback I received on my work gave me the confidence to continue the work, and to take it seriously. Over the years it was natural for me to move from jewelry carving; working with cedar, maple, alder and yew wood. I believe as a Skokomish Native, that I have a connection to my ancestors who have gone before me. I also believe they assisted me to be successful as a carver and bent wood box maker. They are my connection to Creator. I am grateful for this. I carve to honor them and the generations of the future. Passing cultural traditional art and our language forward to our children and grandchildren is critical to the survival of our tribal culture.

I am honored to have shared my carving and artistic skills to many tribal people here at Skokomish and other Coastal Salish communities.

I stopped making jewelry entirely several years ago. I prefer to carve exclusively. As I carve, the pieces that emerge from my hands are given a certain life and energy that is not of me. It comes through me from the ancestors. I listen to them and hope that I can do justice to the message thy ask me to carry forward.

After more than three decades, I still love the work. Working as an artist is who I am. I find I am usually awake before dawn and cannot wait to get to my studio while the ret of the community is sleeping. Dawn is my time. It is a quiet time when the work comes freely from the ancestors as my expression through art.

The discovery of my latent artistic talent has enriched my life beyond my expectation. I look around me and see my loving family, a supportive community, the abundance and beauty of the earth and I know that I am rich. I love my work and trust that my work as an artist will continue for another three decades.