Renowned Nisga'a carver Norman Tait dies at 75

A master carver and world-renowned Nisga'a artist has died. Norman Tait was 75 years old.

Totem poles carved by Norman Tait stand in Vancouver, around the world

In 2012, Nisga'a carver Norman Tait (centre) received the the British Columbia Creative Lifetime Achievement Award For First Nations Art. (British Columbia Achievement Foundation)

A master carver and world-renowned Nisga'a artist has died. Norman Tait was 75 years old.

Tait's totem poles have been raised around the world, including Chicago, Osaka, Japan, Vancouver's Stanley Park and University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology. He even carved and raised a totem pole for the Royal Family in 1992, which still stands in Bushy Park in London, England.

Tait was also known for his carved masks, metal jewelry and prints.

Tait worked in a variety of different mediums. His serigraph, Dogfish and Spirit, was created in 1978. (Norman Tait/Spirit Wrestler Gallery)

"His pieces evoke strong feelings in people who see them. Because he's a storyteller, speaking in an authentic, distinctive Nisga'a voice," read an announcement from 2012, when Tait was awarded the British Columbia Creative Lifetime Achievement Award For First Nations Art.

Born in 1941 in the Nisga'a village of Gingolx, B.C., Tait attended residential school in Edmonton before completing high school in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

Tait's Moon Pendant is made from catlinite, a type of red rock that has been used by First Nations artists for hundreds of years. (Norman Tait/Spirit Wrestler Gallery)


The son of celebrated carver Josiah Tait, Norman Tait's brother Robert Tait and son Isaac Tait are also well-known artists.
Norman Tait first established himself in 1973, working with his father to carve and ceremoniously raise the first Nisga'a pole in over 50 years. His work can now be found in private and public collections around the world.

Norman Tait died on May 21. As word of his death spread, many took to social media to express their condolences.