Spawning Moon

Red cedar carving by Nuu-chah-nulth artist Gordon Dick. Sculpture carved from a single piece of red cedar. Yellow cedar moon with copper eyes fastened to side. Red cedar base permanently attached. Available for sale via Steinbrueck Native Gallery. Dimensions 56″ high x 21.5″ wide x 24.75″ deep.

See below for story.



“Spawning moon visually describes the period from late February and early March when the herring are spawning off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

My grandfather lived on Keith Island in Barclay Sound, and when I was a young man we would harvest the herring roe and herring together. Together we would take hemlock branches, bring them out in the boat, and sink them vertically so that the sticky roe would attach to the broad, flat needles on the branches. A herring spawn stretches for miles in the water and turns the ocean milky white. They spawn in the kelp beds and sea grass about 12′-16′ deep and this activity attracts all kinds of life, like killer whales, sea lions, ravens, eagles, seagulls, sea otters, and ducks. It could take a day or so for us to collect enough roe on the hemlock before we pulled up our harvest. The roe can be eaten raw, lightly poached, or with beach kelp.

Spawning moon shows the instant where three killer whales are pushing the herring up to the water’s surface, where an eagle is shown hunting for the same prey. A herring spawn is affected by the tides of the season so I’ve sculpted a moon out of yellow cedar on the shoulder of the eagle.

With this carving I’m sharing some of the teachings and things I witnessed as a young man with my grandfather. I want to remind people about how things are connected and balanced. As a society and as individuals we are prone to tunnel vision, and can get swept up in a fast pace of life. It’s important to slow down, look at nature, and realize how things work together and are interconnected.”

-Gordon Dick