I grew up in Deline but was born on the land. My parents moved into Fort Franklin, which we called Deline then, in the 1980s. My dad taught us everything. We had no sisters so we were taught everything – even what was women’s work and we did it all for survival.
Painting just came to me naturally growing up. I did a lot of drawing while going to school. I did carving on wood and bone way back in the 1970s and 1980s. I also take a lot of pictures around Deline. Whenever I have chance in the evening I do work.
In 1990, I got back into making drums and sometimes snowshoes. You have to find right grain of spruce or birch. It is hard to make spruce round because sometimes it splinters when it bends. We don’t have much birch around here and have to go south about 40 miles from Deline to get it.
It is important to me to leave something behind so young people know where we come from. My dad, Johnny Neyelle, used to tell me stories about everything. They were the kind of stories that I want to leave behind. I am trying to write down what he told me, record them, draw them; whatever it takes. Today, I try to pass on these traditional skills and knowledge in many different ways by making things.