Coast Salish Nation
Cicero August was born in 1940 in Cowichan Bay, British Columbia. Cowichan Bay (Tl’lulpalus) is one of seven traditional villages that the current reserve land of the Cowichan Tribes is comprised of. With 4,900 members, the Cowichan Tribe constitutes the largest single First Nation Band in British Columbia.
Inspired by the work of Mungo Martin, Cicero began carving when he was only eight years old. While Cicero initially learned this art form under the guidance of his grandfather and uncle, he later became one of Simon Charlie’s very first students, and served as his apprentice for four years. Throughout his forty-year career, Cicero has continuously worked to perfect his carving techniques. This dedication has earned him a reputation as a highly acclaimed Coast Salish master carver.
Cicero’s work is well-known both locally and internationally. On a local level, his poles can be found in front of the BC Legislature Buildings, the location upon which his 30 ft. Knowledge Totem stands. Along the Totem Walk in Duncan, British Columbia currently resides his piece known as The Friendship Pole. Unlike most totem poles, these pieces are not sanded. Instead, Cicero’s poles tend to be tool-finished, a feature that serves to further distinguish his work from that of other Coast Salish carvers.
Beyond his work as a expert pole carver, Cicero has also mastered canoe building and paddle carving. His creations are characterized by his use of traditional Coast Salish designs, through which thousands of years of history and knowledge are reflected. By passing his skills and knowledge onto his children, Cicero has ensured that the carving styles and techniques of his Coast Salish ancestors will live on in future generations.