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Cree Artists Directory

List of registered artists and artisans from Eeyou Istchee and surrounding areas.

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Peter kapashesit

Location: Moose Factory


Short description of your art.

Short description of your art (Work) I make various sizes of tamarack birds that are either standers or flyers. I have started mounting tamaracks on treated popular and driftwood that are found along the Moose River. I have been making tamaracks for over 40 years now.

Where did you learn your art?

I learned this art from my late brother George Small. I would watch him and and then began making birds as a young man, which has been many years ago now.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration knowing that this craft originated from the Cree of James Bay, and to be a part of that tradition makes me feel proud to have learned the skills to make them. I hope to inspire others to take the time to learn to make them, but more importantly, to pass on the tradition.

Have you received any formal training?

No, there is no formal training to make this craft. I learned from observation and practicing. This craft requires patience and dedication to succeed.

What other art forms do you practice?

Our family is musically inclined. My brothers play in a band and we play rock and roll and country cover tunes, as well as gospel music. We have been playing for 40 plus years now.

Have you ever received any awards or special recognition?

Have you ever received any awards or special recognition? No, I've never received any awards or special recognition for making tamarack birds.

Do you sell your work? If so, how?

Yes, I sell my craft to local community members, tourists and indigenous craft stores throughout Canada. I have sold to stores in the states as well.

Has your art work ever been mentioned in any media?

Yes it has been mentioned in the magazine “Canadian Living”. An article on the “ tamarack bird” was written back in the late 80’s and a few families from Moosonee and Moose factory were interviewed. We each shared our knowledge and experiences about the history and making of the tamarack bird.

Please provide any information on your buyers.

I recently retired from the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario and the positions I held throughout my career was a Fish and Wildlife Technician, Conservation Officer and Resource Liaison officer. With my many years of experience as a Tamarack Craftsman I often get invited to go to the local schools, organizations and outdoor education groups to share and teach the art of making tamarack birds. “For those that say money doesn’t grow on trees do not know about tamarack birds”!