George Clutesi | The Canadian Encyclopedia


George Clutesi

George Charles Clutesi, CM, artist, author, folklorist (born 1905 near Port Alberni, BC; died 27 February 1988 in Victoria, BC). George Clutesi’s publications and public activities were among the first in the post-Second World War period to gain recognition for Indigenous cultures as interpreted by Indigenous people themselves. Clutesi shared Tseshaht art and culture through his work, including painting a mural at the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67. He received accolades for his work, including being inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada.

George Clutesi

Early Life and Career

George Clutesi was born in a Tseshaht village in British Columbia to Katherine and Charlie Clutesi. Clutesi’s mother passed away when he was four years old. As a child, Clutesi was forced to attend the Alberni Indian Residential School (see also Residential Schools in Canada). A fisherman and pile driver for 21 years, Clutesi broke his back in the 1940s.

During his convalescence, he began to record, reproduce and teach the stories, songs, dances and art of his people. Emily Carr left him her artist's materials at her death. His books, though conventional in language, are rich in engaging human and technical detail. Clutesi painted one of the murals of the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67. He was the author of Son of Raven, Son of Deer: Fables of the Tse-shaht People (1967) and Potlatch (1969). In 1990, his book Stand Tall My Son was published posthumously.

In addition to writing and creating artwork, Clutesi also worked as an actor in film and television. Most notably, he performed in Dreamspeaker (1977), which resulted in him receiving a Canadian Film Award for his performance.

George Clutesi Drumming

Awards and Honours