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Born in 1952, David Boxley was raised by his grandparents who taught him a range of Tsimshian traditions. After high school, he attended Seattle Pacific University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974 and became a teacher. While teaching in Metlakatla in 1979, David began devoting considerable time to the study of traditional Tsimshian art. He left teaching in 1986 to devote all his energies toward carving and learning the methods of his grandfather's people.
As the first Alaskan Tsimshian to achieve national prominence, Boxley's functional and decorative pieces, such as bentwood boxes, rattles, masks, prints, and panels, can be found in public and private art collections around the world. He is particularly well respected as a totem pole carver, having carved 65 poles in the last 26 years.
In 1990, Boxley was commissioned to carve the crown of a talking stick featuring American eagle and Russian bear symbols for the Goodwill Games between the United States and the Soviet Union. The stick held messages from Presidents Bush Sr. and Gorbachev inside it and was carried by athletes across Washington state for the Games' opening ceremonies.
Boxley has involved himself deeply in the maintenance and growth of Tsimshian
culture by organizing and hosting potlatches in both Alaska and Washington, including Seattle's first Northwest Coast potlatch in one hundred years, which was held in 1996. As the leader of the Tsimshian Haayuuk in Seattle, David has written over 40 songs in his Native language.
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