American Native Arts and Antiques

Exceptional Current and Vintage Native American Arts

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Aaron York

Craft: 

Aaron York is an internationally known traditional artist and educator. He is the owner and founder of the Red Child Studio of Fine Wabanaki Arts. Although best known for his skills as a birchbark canoe artisan, he has also revived several other rare Wabanaki art forms such as brides boxes and highly embellished crooked knives. His pieces are of equal complexity to the ancestral examples known in museums and private collections. As a result, his arts can be found in museums and high-end private collections.

In 2005, Aaron was asked by the Ministikwan Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan to go west and help them rediscover their traditional canoe forms. Since then, he has worked extensively with several western First nations in Canada to revive their aboriginal watercraft. In return for his teaching out west, he was immersed in all other aspects of Algonquian culture that he had been longing to learn. Aaron attributes being well rounded culturally to traveling to cousin nations where he found missing pieces of his nation's traditions that were lost to colonization. Aaron now has strong family ties in the treaty 6 and treaty 7 regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta. In short, his time and bond with his western Cree cousins was life altering, and the quality of his art is what he attributes to making that relationship possible.

Aaron's view of his art and culture: "Culture is not inherited, it is learned. We do not arrive from the womb with the ability to speak our ancestral language or know our culture. It takes only one generation of failing to teach our children their culture for devastating cultural erosion to occur. As an eastern Native I know this all too well! This is what drives me to work so hard to create art that is "over the top" but well within the parameters of regionally specific, traditional Wabanaki art forms. Such art forms that are rare, labor intensive and have a life-long learning curve. I am trying to do my part to heal the toxic affect that cultural erosion has caused our people."