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Shotridge will carve two 15-foot totem poles and a 30-foot facade of a canoe for the cemetery in LaPush, the tribal council decided recently, said Jackie Jacobs, the tribe’s spokeswoman, Friday.
The memorial is important for the tribe, said Bonita Cleveland, tribal chairwoman, “as it will grace the entrance of one of our most sacred sites, the resting place of our beloved ancestors.”
Private, public blessings
A private blessing for the commencement of the project, with members of the tribal council attending, is planned at the artist’s studio on Vashon Island today, Jacobs said.
In about six months, when the project is completed, a public blessing will be conducted at the Quileute Cemetery, she said.
The Quileute tribe “is honored to select a master carver whose artistic vision and beautiful, majestic pieces represent work that only a true visionary can create,” Cleveland said in a statement.
“Israel’s carving and the expressions of his native woodwork touched the hearts of our committee, and we are humbly honored to partner with him.
“Israel’s devotion and commitment in bringing the poles from his homeland and the beautiful blessings that he bestowed upon them solidified that we had made the correct and honorable choice,” she added.
Shotridge — originally from Ketchikan, Alaska — has been carving totem poles and canoes for the past 30 years.
He and his wife, Sue, have lived on Vashon Island for 15 years.
“I am living my dream: to be commissioned by other tribes to carve significant pieces of art. It’s the greatest honor,” Shotridge said in the statement.
Shotridge will take on several Quileute tribal members as apprentices during this project, which will use a 40-foot red cedar log from southeast Alaska.
Visitors can see Shotridge’s work at his studio Fridays only through mid-December by appointment.
To make an appointment, phone 206-200-3302.