Dale Marie Campbell
Born in Prince Rupert, BC, Dale Marie Campbell, whose native name is Tahlthtama, is of Tahltan-Tlingit ancestry and is a member of the Wolf Clan. Her father, Harry Campbell, is of the Raven Clan and her mother, Peggy, is of the Wolf Clan. Both are from Telegraph Creek, BC, a small village on the Stikine River. (The Tahltan are from northwestern BC, and the Tlingit originate in southeast Alaska.)
Many of Dale’s relatives still live at Telegraph Creek and she tries to visit them at leased once a year. “It gives me an opportunity to hear the old Indian stories and to stay in touch with the traditional lifestyles of my people.” Dale finds much of her inspiration in the myths and legends of the Tahltan and Tlingit people. Through her research and work, she has acquired a much deeper awareness and understanding of her ancestry.
In 1972, Dempsey Bob encouraged Dale to pursue work in Indian art. She enrolled in art classes taught by Dempsey and apprenticed with him in the early stages of her study of Northwest Coast Native Art. In addition she has worked with other artists such as Henry Green, Rick Adkins and Victor Reece.
In 1976, Dale’s eagle design was chosen from among those submitted by other artists for the Museum of Northern BC’s logo, in Prince Rupert. During the ensuing years her work was displayed in two major art exhibitions, “Art of the Salmon People” and the first “Indian Woman Art Show”. Both were well received by the public.
In July 1982, Dale, her brother Terrence, and Alvin Adkins carved a thirty-foot (nine metre) totem pole that was raised in the traditional manner in front of the carving longhouse, then adjacent to the Museum of Northern BC. The pole-raising ceremony included dancing by the artists and a feast for the spectators.
In 1984, Dale completed a course in silversmithing at the Vancouver Vocational Institute. With her knowledge of the basics of traditional Indian design, she is teaching herself the art of metal engraving. Her work is included in the book “Indian Artists at Work” by Ulli Steltzer.
A button blanket that Dale designed and constructed was one of twenty-one such items selected for a year-long ceremonial button blanket exhibition entitled “Robes of Power: Totem Poles on Cloth”, which opened in May 1985 at the Festival Centre in Adelaide, Australia. In 1986, coinciding with the city’s centenary and Expo 86, this same exhibition opened in Vancouver, BC. Dale’s Blanket is illustrated in the publication “Robes of Power: Totem Poles on Cloth”, by Doreen Jensen and Polly Sargent.
In May of 1991, Dale and her brother Terrence took part in the official launch of Festival Canada ’91 in Hong Kong with the presentation by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of a “Killer Whale Totem Pole”. It was given to the people of Hong Kong as a symbol of enduring friendship between Canada and the territory. It was Dale who designed the 31-foot, three-ton totem and who, along with Terrence, carved the pole. They, in addition, carved a smaller totem pole during demonstrations throughout the Festival at a number of locations around Hong Kong.
In 1986 Dale was chosen as a role model for the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program. Throughout the next six years she traveled across Canada visiting reserves providing inspirational workshops for native youth. Her theme was “You can find the magic in anything you do.”
She has also taught courses in basic formline design to First Nations students at the Prince Rupert campus of the Northwest Community College.
Dale has worked at the Museum of Northern BC, and many of the masks and plaques she carves have been commissioned by private collectors in Canada, the United States, and as far away as Japan. Other pieces she markets herself and deals with various local galleries.
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC hosted a show entitled First Nations Artists: Women of the Northwest Coast in which some of Dale’s work was displayed and the work was then purchased for the museums permanent collection.
Dales is a self-described perfectionist and is considered to be a producer of elegant fine art. She will not release a piece until she is totally satisfied with it. Each piece is an original and comes with the story from which it was inspired.