1853 - 1940
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Frederick Alexcee was born in Lax Kw’alaams, then known as Fort Simpson, in 1853. His father was an Iroquois laborer from eastern Canada, employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Simpson. His mother was Tsimshian from the Giluts’aaw tribe, one of the ‘Nine Tribes’ from the lower Skeena River area based at Lax Kw’alaams. In the matrilineal system of the Tsimshian, Alexcee followed his mother as a Giluts’aaw and as a member of the Gispwudwada (Killerwhale clan or phratry). His Tsimshian name was ‘Wiiksmwan’, meaning Great Deer Woman.
Alexcee was trained as a halaayt carver, the term halaayt referring to shamanic practices which were the prerogative of chiefs. He produced naxnox (spirit) paraphernalia and items for use in ‘secret society’ ceremonies. All of these were practices which late 19th century missionaries in Lax Kw’alaams were endeavoring to eradicate. Alexcee also carved for the Indian curio trade and produced paintings and drawings depicting traditional life in Port Simpson.