People / Mungo Martin

Artist, musician, composer, educator. Also known as Nakapankam or Datsa. Mungo Martin was born in 1879 in Fort Rupert, British Columbia. A member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, Martin was taught the traditional arts by his stepfather, the well-known artist Charlie James. Martin would later act as teacher to his son-in-law Henry Hunt, grandson Tony Hunt, and Bill Reid. Martin’s grandsons, Stanley and Richard Hunt, are carvers as well. Martin’s received his first commission for a totem pole ca.1900. Entitled Raven of the Sea, it was installed at Alert Bay. The University of British Columbia approached Martin in 1948 to oversee their totem pole restoration program, to carve new poles, and to teach the craft to apprentices. In addition, Martin worked with ethnographers and anthropologists, recording approximately 400 oral histories and songs, both at the University of British Columbia and at the Royal British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria. Martin moved to Victoria in 1952, where he worked on the restoration and replication of old totem poles until his death in 1962. In addition to carving totem poles, Martin built a ceremonial big house at Thunderbird Park at the Royal British Columbia Museum, called the Mungo Martin House or Wawadit’la. Its house posts bear the crests of the three Nakapankam clans and the opening ceremony in 1953 marked the first potlatch after the ban was lifted. For his efforts, Martin was awarded the Canada Council medal in 1961. Martin passed away the following year.
Additional information and materials about Mungo Martin are available on request in Art, Architecture and Planning at the University of British Columbia Library. http://www.library.ubc.ca/finearts/

  1. 05. Mungo Martin Lying in State
    Mungo Martin (Photograph)
  2. 06. Chief Mungo Martin holds copper crest to be presented with the Royal Totem Pole to the Queen
    Mungo Martin (Photograph)
  3. 07. Hunter Lewis introducing Mungo Martin at the opening of Totem Park
    Mungo Martin (Photograph)
  4. 08. Mungo Martin Lying in State
    Mungo Martin (Photograph)