992.6.1: Talking Stick, 1990

Additional Images

992.6.1: Talking Stick.
Image No. 3702 ; Photographer: Helen Kingsley

Object Description

Hand carved, painted yellow cedar talking stick. Carvings from the top are the caricatures of an eagle, human face, sea serpent, whale with two ravens and pectoral fin, raven, bear, salmon. The talking stick was designed and carved by Bill Wilson of the Kwagulth (Kwakiutl) nation. It was given as a gift, from former Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Gordon Fahrni, to the British Columbia Medical Association [now Doctors of BC] and served as the Association's official mace. Talking stick dimensions given. Overall height 170.5cm.

Object Classification

Accession Number: 992.6.1
Collection: Gifts/Awards
Date: 1990

Object Dimensions

  • Height: 169 cm
  • Width: 54 cm
  • Depth: 23 cm

Object Parts

  • a) Talking stick
  • b) Base

Object Materials

  • acrylic paint,
  • wood

Acquisition Detail

  • History of Use: The Talking Stick was used in First Nations cultures when important issues needed to be discussed. The stick was placed in the center of the group, and each individual who had something to contribute waited their turn to take possession of the Talking Stick to speak; it gave each speaker the courage to speak the truth and the power to speak from the heart. Other members of the group were to listen to the speaker without interruption, and try to understand his or her message. The Talking Stick ensured a democratic process: all members were encouraged to contribute, and all were treated as equals. Great Councils in First Nations were held in this fashion and the Council of Elders made decisions after listening to all viewpoints expressed. Talking Sticks were usually of familiar heritage and each chief would have his own, bearing the family's crests.