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  1. "Wiiwimta-eyḳ Thliitsapilthim", early 1970s.
    Ceremonial curtain of the Senior Chief of Kayukwit, painted by Ḳi-ḳe-in. Keeper of the history:
    Wiiwimta-eyḳ, Christina Cox. Courtesy of Wiiwimta-eyḳ, Christina Cox. L to r: Samantha
    Cox, Walter Cox, Sophie Jules, Wiiwimta-eyḳ,
    Ḳi-ḳe-in. Comox Community Hall, early 1970s.
    Photo: Ḳi-ḳe-in.

  2. Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in. Exhibition catalogue.
    32 pages, colour and b/w images. Soft cover. Introduction by Charlotte Townsend-Gault.
    $2.00 — To order contact:, tel. 604.822.2759,
    fax. 604.822.6689.

Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in

17 January - 28 March, 2010

Fri Jan 15 - Sat Jan 16 >read more

Thu Mar 4, 3 - 4:15 pm Naasḳuu-isaḳs, Shaunee Casavant >read more

Curated by Professor Charlotte Townsend-Gault of the University of British Columbia, Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in brings together for the first time, thliitsapilthim or ceremonial curtains by Nuuchaanulth painter Ḳi-ḳe-in (Ron Hamilton) and historical curtains from museum and private collections in Canada and the United States.

Painted on cotton, these thliitsapilthim are amongst the largest (up to 3 metres high x 18 metres long) portable two-dimensional paintings in the world. Historical ancestral exploits and episodes from family histories, conflicts, captures and alliances are seen in these striking narrative works. The Nuuchaanulth were the first people Europeans encountered when Captain James Cook landed at Yuquot in 1778 in what is now British Columbia. Though much of the art of the Northwest Coast has come to be associated with poles and carvings of the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw, the Nuuchaanulth have made and used ceremonial curtains for thousands of years on the west coast of what is now called Vancouver Island.

Each thliitsapilthim has been painted following the instructions from a family needing it to tell the ‘backstory’, its history and spiritual pedigree, that will enhance and validate the ceremony of naming, celebrating a marriage, mourning, or reconciling. Curtains were originally painted using locally derived pigments, including charcoal, ochre and other minerals, on cedar planks or panels. The prohibitions on First Nations ceremonies that derived from the 1885 Indian Act meant that these events were driven underground, hidden from view. It was during this period that some of the fine older examples in this exhibition found their way into public and private collections around the world. But the Nuuchaanulth never stopped creating and displaying the stories that formed the backdrop to the most important events of their lives, although they were now using sail cloth or cotton so that they could be folded up and hidden from the Indian Agents, if necessary.

Accompanied by photographs, documents and interviews, Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in promotes a deeper understanding of Nuuchaanulth art and culture and is a celebration of these remarkable curtains and the people who make and use them.

Thliitsapilthim in this exhibition are also presented on the campus of the University of British Columbia at: Walter C. Koerner Library at 1958 Main Mall (Monday-Friday 8 am-11 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-11 pm) and at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at 9265 Crescent Road (Monday-Friday 12-5 pm). We thank Walter C. Koerner Library and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts for participating in this project.

Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in is generously sponsored by The Audain Foundation and presented with the 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad with support from the British Columbia Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the UBC Museum of Anthropology.


[+] Ḳi-ḳe-in

[+] Charlotte Townsend-Gault

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689