People / Chief Henry Speck

Artist. Also known as Ozistalis. Chief Henry Speck was born in 1908 on Turnour Island. He attended the Alert Bay Residential School for only two years. At age fourteen, he was initiated as a Hamatsa dancer in the Tlowitsis tribe—and therefore an acknowledged ceremonial songwriter and composer of Kwagiutl dances—during his uncle Chief Bob Harris’ potlatch. Speck’s father hosted a potlatch to assume the position of chief of the Tlowitsis in 1925, at which his son danced. When the elder Speck passed away, Henry Speck was made chief and given the name Ozistalis, which means “the greatest.” A largely self-taught artist, Speck worked in both watercolour and woodcarving. Speck’s first solo exhibition was held in 1964 at the New Design Gallery and was comprised of forty watercolours. The sixteen page catalogue, Kwakiutl Art, was one of the earliest attempts to thoroughly analyze and promote Kwakiutl Art in print for commercial purposes. The following year, Speck became artistic director of Chief James Sewid’s Big House project in Alert Bay. Speck also exhibited at the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. His work is included in the collections of the British Columbia Provincial Museum, the National Museum of Man, the Glenbow Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Campbell River Museum. Speck passed away in 1971.

  1. 11. Sea Monster Dance Mask
    Chief Henry Speck (Drawing)
  2. 12. Wren Dance
    Chief Henry Speck (Drawing)
  3. 13. No Room at the Inn
    Chief Henry Speck (Painting)
  4. 14. Sea Monster Mask Dance - Ga-gish
    Chief Henry Speck (Painting)
  5. 15. Father Forgive Them
    Chief Henry Speck (Painting)
  6. 16. Indian paints his history, Vancouver Province, March 21, 1964
    Nikki Moir and Chief Henry Speck (Ephemera)
  7. 17. What the Heck Says Mr. Speck: The Chief Gives a Tootle for the Talents of Kwakiutl, Vancouver Sun, March 24, 1961
    Chief Henry Speck (Ephemera)
  8. 18. The Indian as Artist, Part 1
    Wilson Duff and Chief Henry Speck (Audio)
  9. 19. The Indian as Artist, Part 3
    Doug Cranmer and Chief Henry Speck (Audio)
  10. 20. The Indian as Artist, Part 1
    Wilson Duff and Chief Henry Speck (Audio)