Killer Whale Panel, 2018

Original size is 1444 × 2200 pixels

Cole Speck (Kwakwaka’wakw)

Yellow cedar, acrylic

36″ (91cm) diameter


On the Northwest Coast the Killer Whale is an important crest figure among local First Nations Groups. The very first Killer Whales came into being when carved in wood by a human, Raven, or a Master Carpenter and then magically infused with a life force. Killer Whales are known to capsize canoes and carry the occupants into the depths. In many of these stories the kidnapped human is given great wealth. Killer Whales are also known to guide people to safety when caught in stormy weather.

Killer Whales are widely recognized as clan ancestors and are found in shamanic story, and crest art. Killer Whales are also seen to be reincarnations of past chiefs and when a chief dies a Killer Whale comes to shore to take the chief’s spirit. Killer Whales are an important symbol of family and longevity.