Journey Towards Inner Strength

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Winter Celebration

“When I had become more comfortable in my design abilities as an artist I began to apply deeper content in my work. About this time I connected with some personal experiences for subject matter.

My late grandfather, Thomas Peterson Sr. spoke seldom of Indian life but when he did I paid close attention. A particular discussion between us took place at a time when he was 100 years of age and myself twenty-five. He shared with me a tradition he learned of from Tulalip elders when he was in his twenties. The tradition related to a coming of age and confronting your fears. A man, he said, would journey by canoe alone to Comano Island on the Tulalip reservation. It is an island comprised of a low sunken middle which is said to be a village buried by an earthquake. There, spirits roam with great power and among them dwelled a double headed serpent. In his time there the man would eventually confront this being or spirit to come to peace with his fears.

This shared information meant the world to me. So little is known about old traditions and oral history has nearly become extinct with the loss of our language. This somehow survived and I cherish that moment with my grandfather.

This print commemorates that tradition and gives life to the sea being that embodies our fears. It gives way to the concept of our ancestors that we must find strength in what is unknown and accept what is beyond our powers to change, thus that in and of itself is a power few can truly possess.”

-Shaun Peterson / Qwalsius