Pete Peterson Sr.

"They (carvings and bentwood boxes) are my connection to Creator. I carve to honor them and the generations of the future."


Over the years l began to fit into my skin as an artist. I made a connection to my ancestors who have gone before me. I believe they have assisted me to be successful as a carver and bentwood box maker. They are my connection to Creator. I carve to honor them and the generations of the future. I speak of these things freely and comfortably, at last, when the community approach me. I believe am seen as a healthy and successful elder in the community. Teaching Skokomish youth and other tribal members this traditional art form builds self-esteem and takes to the individual level a deep and abiding appreciation for cultural values. The discovery of my latent artistic talent has enriched my life beyond my expectation. Decades later, l still love the work. Working as an artist is who l am. If my life and work is an example that strengthens my community, then I am a happy man.

"Pete has dedicated his life to community enrichment. Pete was one of the first advocates for tribal sovereignty and a charter member of the North West Indian Fish Commission. He worked tirelessly for the bold decision, the Federal Court Order that opened the fishing industry for all Indian people in Washington State. Over a few decades Pete has evolved as the keeper of the Skokomish cultural tradition through his artist talent generous spirit. Pete works extensively with the children and youth as well as other tribal members to promote cultural values and learning. In his private studio he maintains a door open so that all community members have the opportunity to learn and observe the traditional gathering and carving techniques set down by the ancestors." - Lila Vigil, Nominator

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