March 19, 1950 (d. 2011)
Alert Bay, BC
Russell Smith came from a prominent family. His maternal grandfather was Isaac Abraham, Chief of the Walas Kwakiult at Fort Rupert. Edith Dawson, his maternal grandmother, was the daughter of Chief Amos Dawson of the Mamalekala Tribe of Village Island. Russell’s mother, Elizabeth Abraham, was a member of the Thunderbird Clan. She was the bearer of the oral history of the family genealogy, and a maker of button blankets and aprons. Russell began wood carving in 1968, before working on the Guildford Island longhouse at the Pacific Science Centre in Seattle, WA, in 1970. His mother taught him to make button blankets and his cousin, Kwakwaka'wakw artist Lloyd Wadhams, introduced Russell to silver work and precious metals. In 1977, Russell received training on advanced smithing techniques, such as repoussé, from Bill Reid, Gerry Marks, Phil Janzé, and the English goldsmith, Peter Page. In 1980, Russell's work was included in the The Legacy exhibition at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC. In addition, he learned the Kwakwaka'wakw language, and was very active in Kwakwaka'wakw dancing and dance history. Russell passed away in 2011.