Kwakwaka'wakw (Tsawatainuk/ Mamalilikulla First Nations)
Sammy Dawson was born on December 21, 1976. Belonging to the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples, he grew up in the community of Alert Bay. His mother is from the Tsawatainuk First Nation and his father is from the island village First Nation of Mamalilikulla.
He was privileged to have the opportunity to watch native carving from a young age. Sammy began carving at 12 years old. His grandfather, William Robertson was a carver, known for his masks, boxes and talking sticks which were used at potlatches. He was a hereditary Ninolkinoxw chief. It was William who gave Sammy the cultural name of Giyosdisalas, which means Leading the Way. The experience of growing up surrounded by the culture has shaped Sammy's artistic path.
By the age of 22, he had progressed to mask carving. He apprenticed under Simon Dick for 3-4 years who assisted him in the refining of his work. Eddie McDougal showed him the technique of creating cedar bark regalia and the preparation of cedar bark to adorn masks. Sammy has created major totems, ceremonial masks and drums.