Charlie James

Charlie James (1867–1937) was a premier carver and painter from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation of British Columbia. Also known by his ceremonial name Yakuglas, he was a prolific artist and activist during a period of severe oppression for First Nations people in Canada.

The son of a Fort Rupert native woman, James is best known for the many small model totem poles. Charlie James was instrumental in establishing what might be termed the Fort Rupert substyle of Kwakwaka’wakw art. This substyle, distinct from that of the Blunden Harbour-Smith Inlet carvers, was developed and elaborated by his stepson Mungo Martin and is carried on today by Martin’s descendants, the Hunt family of carvers. One of his most popular types of totem pole (which remains popular today), was a two-figure version featuring an anthropomorphic being at the bottom and a thunderbird with outstretched wings at the top.