Tahltan Arts & Culture: Sheldon Dennis

Jun. 27/12

Tahltan artist Sheldon Dennis treasures his culture and incorporates it into the fine art pieces he creates. Sheldon belongs to the wolf clan, comes from the Simgaldtadta family, and is the son of Gertie Dennis and Steven Louie. He lived in Iskut for most of his life, but currently resides in Terrace.

In pursuit of his lifelong dream to be a professional artist, Sheldon studied the fine arts program at Northwest Community College’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. He has incorporated Tahltan stories and legends into Northwest Coast Art, such as his “Dance of the Bear Dog” series, which reflects stories of how the Tahltan Bear Dog would help during the hunt of a bear.

“Many years ago in the far north of western BC, hunters from the Tahltan Nation would carry the Bear Dogs in packs (to conserve the dogs’ energy) until fresh tracks of prey were found. The dogs were then released to chase down the prey. Once the prey was found, the dogs would encircle and annoy it until the hunters arrived. The small agile dogs were fearless hunters, yet gentle pets,” Sheldon shares. “In my art, the many faces within the bear symbolize the Tahltan people, the circle of life, and the celebration that ensues.”