Tsungani, Fearon Smith Jr. or “Smitty” is the younger brother of Lelooska and Patty Fawn. Tsungani, meaning “he who excels” was given a very important Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) name, Qa7axtal’es, in 1968. Qa7axatal’es implying “young herald” is translated as “He who arises early and invites the people into the house to eat”. When Lelooska passed away in 1996, Tsungani became clan chief of the Wiummasgum Clan of the House of Lelooska and the House of Sewide. The name Gixken meaning “Chief of Chiefs” was also passed to him.
Growing up in a family already deeply involved in Indian arts, it was natural for him to fall in step with the rest of the family and become an artist. He is a skilled artist in all mediums of Northwest Coast Indian art but devotes most of his time to woodcarving. He is best known for his ceremonial masks, rattles, bentwood boxes and chests done in both traditional and contemporary styles. He particularly enjoys the creation of shaman figures and masks based on historical pieces.
In addition, he is deeply interested in Indian history and the history of the fur trade and has done extensive research in both fields.
Tsungani was one of the main dancers in the family’s educational programs, an expert at handling the large, articulated masks—a skill much respected by the Old People. At traditional potlatches, he was often called upon to perform with the masks.
As Clan Chief, Tsungani devotes his time to continuing the legacy of his family. He is now the storyteller and narrator in the family educational presentations. Retired from dancing, he continues to share his vast knowledge and skills with the next generation. As a woodcarver he continues to work in the traditional styles creating masks, totem poles, bowls and rattles.
Keeping with tradition, Tsungani waited four years to potlatch as chief. In September 2001, Tsungani held a memorial potlatch for Lelooska and Shona-hah. The potlatch is an initiation ceremony for the children into the various dancing societies. Family members are given their Native Indian names which can only be legalized by the potlatch system. It is also a purification rite for any injustices done to us or by us against society as a whole and by our potlatch Laws we make things right by giving gifts to our guests as they are witnesses that these events took place.
Tsungani is married to Julia Stoll, and they have two daughters, Mariah Stoll-Smith Reese and Lottie Stoll-Smith. Mariah is married to Eric Reese and they have a daughter, Mara Isabel born in September of 2002, and son Isaac Edward born in January 2004.
All of Tsungani’s family participates in the educational programs and activities.
Julia Hart Stoll
Julia Hart Stoll, wife of Chief Tsungani Fearon Smith of the Lelooska Family, mother of Mariah Reese & Lottie Stoll-Smith, mother-in-law of Eric Reese, grandmother of Mara and Isaac Reese passed away on September 6, 2012 at 12:16 am surrounded by her family after battling breast cancer for 17 years.
Julia was an accomplished contemporary visual artist creating watercolors, prints, and paintings. Much of her work, including installations, focused on the riparian area behind her home in the Yale Valley. As a member of Blackfish Gallery for many years she enjoyed working and exhibiting with other artists. She had a love for the forest behind her house and drew many artists together to share in the beauty of the area.
Julia attended Swarthmore College and had a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR where she also taught classes for 18 years. As the artist in residence at Yale Elementary School she shared her knowledge and love for the arts to several generations of children.
She had a passion for all the arts, especially contemporary classical music, dance and singing that came together as founder and Artistic Director of the Yale Valley Arts Festival. She was eager to learn about everything: a new subject, a new language or the story of a person she just met. She loved the movement and expression of dance and enjoyed weekly classes at the local dance studio. She had a beautiful soprano voice that she loved to share as she sang with her church family on Sundays.
She believed in her community and often served on various boards and committees including the Yale Valley Library District, Friends of Yale Valley, Catlin Gabel, Integrated Landscape Management, the Lelooska Foundation and many more. Julia was a dancer in and an integral part of the Lelooska Cultural Center’s Living History Programs for over 40 years.
Julia could see the beauty and good in everyone and everything, and encouraged us all to be blessed by what God created. Julia loved her family dearly and was happy to have shared 42 years with the love of her life. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Lelooska Foundation, P.O. Box 526, Ariel, WA 98603
Patty Fawn is the third child and only daughter of Shona-Hah.
Patty specialized in Northwest Coast jewelry and small sculpture. She worked with both traditional designs and contemporary ones, drawing upon the mythology of the Northwest Coast Peoples for inspiration. Her materials included fossilized ivory, silver, gold, bone, shell, antler, and occasionally wood.
Patty is the mother of a daughter, Nakwesee and son, Jay. Nakwesee is married to Augustus, they were both jewelers and have retired as dancers in the educational programs. Patty has two grandchildren by her son, Jamie and Dustin.
Shona-Hah is the mother of Lelooska, Kwunkwa-dzi, Patty Fawn, and Tsungani. She was born in a black walnut log cabin in Oklahoma’s old Cherokee Nation. There, she was given the name Shona-Hah, “gray dove”. Her Kwakwaka’wakw name, Tl’alilhilugwa, bestowed in 1968, means “whale rising”.
Shona-Hah’s life bespeaks her Indian heritage. In her youth, she both trained horses and rode in races and exhibitions. As a small child, she began participating in the traditional dances and continued throughout her life. Always interested in all facets of Indian art, she exceled at beadwork, skin sewing, carving, painting, and doll making.
Her dolls are valued highly by private collectors and museums as illustrations of vanished cultures. They bring alive both ceremonial and every day events in the lives of the people of many different North American tribes. From the Osage of Oklahoma to the Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia, she draws on first-hand knowledge of the cultures and the memories of the Old Ones for her inspiration.
Shona-Hah’s children credit her with their love and respect for Indian art and traditions. She taught them the skills she had acquired and sacrificed to help them become artists in their own right.
“She and our grandfather,” Lelooska says, “imparted to us that which was to become the essence of our heritage.”
Passing away in October of 1997, Shona-Hah occupied a place of major importance in the family structure. A cohesive element in the group, she was also an important contributor to the educational programs. She not only participated in them, she also made many of the costumes.
Following the death of a clan chief a family must wait at least four years before potlatching. At Lelooska’s 1996 memorial service, the chieftaincy and Lelooska’s name Gixken was passed to Tsungani. Preparations for the potlatch began.
In July of 2001, the Lelooska Family traveled to Campbell River and Cape Mudge, British Columbia to meet with the Sewide family in final preparation for the Lelooska Memorial Potlatch. Once back home, the family continued working towards the potlatch which was now less than two months away. Sewing was completed on blankets, bags and appliqued pillows. Jewelry and woodcarvings were completed. Food and other gifts were gathered.
Dozens of First Nations relatives and friends from British Columbia, Canada began to arrive on Wednesday, Sept.4. They joined the Lelooska Family to complete the final preparations for the potlatch. Chief James Aul Sewid’s daughters, Dora Cook, Louisa Assu, Daisy Sewid-Smith and Mabel James came with their families, three generations. The following days were filled with dancing practice, shared feasts and songs. Chief Adam Dick, who had come to represent Chief Gixken, had spent countless hours working with the singers perfecting the songs which were to be shared at this potlatch.
The Potlatch began on Friday, as family and guests gathered in the big house. The family lead the way to the museum for the blessing and unveiling of the new totem pole. Guests stood amongst a sea of glistening button blankets, as the sunlight stretched across the new pole standing proudly in front of the Lelooska Museum.
To mourn the passing of chiefs and loved ones the memorials began in the ceremonial house. A crescent of vacant chairs was set before the witnesses on the dance floor. From behind the curtain, blanketed women entered and each took her seat on behalf of a loved one that had passed on. Placed on a chair in front of the women were pictures of Chief Sewide and Chief Lelooska sitting together in this same house, and of Shona-Hah and her husband Fearon.
Songs of mourning filled the air. The singers sat on either side of the long wooden drum. The memorials were held for Don Lelooska, Mary Shona-Hah, Fearon Smith Sr., Chief James Aul Sewide, Flora Sewide, Oswald Sewide, Cindy Olney-Smith, Frank Normandin, Norman Stoll, Helen Stoll, Robert Hinkle, Robert Hinkle Jr., Lady E. Hinkle, Johnny Donovan and Leverett Richards.
Breaking for lunch, everyone found a quick meal from the piles of sandwiches, salads, watermelon, chips and cookies lining the tables in the museum, before gathering once more in the big house.
It was now the start of the C’eqa, the sacred red cedar bark dances of the winter ceremonials. The initiated Hamatsa came forth from behind the curtain, sharing her dances, which culminated in the Humsamala, the masked dances of the supernatural birds, Raven, Hox, Hox and the Crooked Beak of Heaven. Other sacred dances continued as the young followed the initiated, their names confirmed following their dance. Each dance was separated by a women’s dance. Before the red cedar bark dances were put away, the extended family and friends joined in the social dances around the fire.
Feasting followed the sacred dances. Venison, Chicken, Chili, Chowder, Salads, Vegetables, Breads, Casseroles, Cakes, Cobblers and more filled the museum as guests made their selections before finding their seats beneath the tents outside. An abundance of food beckoned guests to feast to their hearts content. The singers gathered in song as the women danced in thanksgiving, and the evening came to a close.
Guests began to arrive the next morning to feast before the celebrations began . As guests were gathered in the big house, the family also recognized their Cherokee heritage in the giving of names to those who had not yet received them, Eric Reese, Augustus, Cindy Hinkle and Joy Cook. Hereditary Kwakwala names were then given to Eric, Augustus, Dustin and Lottie.
The Tlasala began as the family shared the adventures and encounters of their ancestors with supernatural beings. Three headdress dancers danced in front of the drum as the attendants teased them and finally drove one of the dancers from the house. Once gone, the attendant returned with the headdress. Questioned by the chiefs as to the whereabouts of the dancer, the attendants often tried to fool them by pulling a guest from their seat and placing the headdress on them. Finally, they were ordered to go outside and bring the supernatural creature into the house.
After failed humorous attempts, they were successful and the supernatural beings entered the house, untouched by the attendents as they made their way around the fire. Bukwus, the wild man of the woods entered the house in search of a cockel which was found and shared with the guests. Full Moon and Half Moon argued once more over who would bring the eulachon to the rivers and streams. Yagis came forth from the House of Copper, as did great Gumakwe, ruler of the Sea Kingdom. Grandmother transformed herself into a loon. Dzunugwa, the timber giant, lumbered across the floor, opening to reveal the ancestors within. Qulus, the highest crest of the House of Lelooska and the House of Sewide, strode across the floor, opening to reveal the face within.
All of the family rose and took part in the family dance. Pausing briefly, many of the gifts that would be later given were draped across family members and carried, as they were danced for the witnesses to see what was to come.
The feasting continued in the museum. Hundreds of pounds of salmon had been prepared behind the ceremonial house and were being expertly cooked over an open fire by Dave Blodgett, of the Yakama Nation. Guests were served their fill of salmon, corn on the cob, potatoes, salads, vegetables, casseroles, chowders, chicken, breads, fruit, cakes and cobblers. It was more then apparent that no one would leave hungry.
Meanwhile in the big house, the fire was covered, and the gifts were brought onto the floor. Woodcarvings, jewelry, dolls, ermines, headdresses, drums, bronze medallions, ivory carvings, applique pillows, bags, blankets, baskets, bowls, buckets, vases, preserves, t-shirts, hats, mugs, necklaces, bracelets, potholders, towels, coins, currency and much more covered the floor, three feet high. Property distribution began with the chiefs, singers, noble men, women and children.
Throughout the next several hours, the Lelooska Family distributed the gifts throughout the house, as guests received them for witnessing these important and timeless events. As the weekend came to a close, it was a time of celebration, remembering the past, and living part of a vibrant, thriving future.