SEDRO-WOOLLEY — It took four years for a breathtaking eagle carving to make its way to its home in the main hallway at Evergreen Elementary School.
On Wednesday, master carver and artist Peter Dunthorne presented the intricately carved eagle to the students and staff of the school.
Through two assemblies, Dunthorne introduced himself, told his story and explained his carving.
“Their faces, that makes it,” Dunthorne said of the students in attendance. “Just seeing that excitement. The same excitement I have for doing this, that makes it all worthwhile.”
Four years ago, Evergreen Principal Brian Isakson was introduced to the 68-year-old Dunthorne, an artist who has participated in the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe for about 46 years.
He was approached to create a carving representing not only the elementary school and its mascot (the eagle) but the school’s connection with the Upper Skagit.
“I actually got the idea for the carving 40 year ago,” Dunthorne said. “I was hiking along a slough by Rockport. A big eagle, wings flapping, was just trying to get us to go away. The image of seeing that eagle with its wings spread never left me.”
He said he wanted to capture the particular majesty of that eagle’s wingspan.
“The wings. That’s what was important and that’s why the carving has the huge wings,” he said. “It’s a vision of that eagle in flight. Eagles are very special.”
Carved out of Dunthorne’s favorite medium, Western red cedar, and painted, the eagle “reflects the local Coast Salish design tradition,” according to a plaque that hangs alongside the carving.
The design, while seemingly simple, is laden with special meanings.
In the middle of the eagle, where its heart would be, is a human face.
“The face represents the human elements at the school,” Dunthorne said. “It represents the staff and students. And the wings. The eagle is taking off. It can be your inspiration and take you to your dreams.”
The carving will welcome those who enter the school with its silent inspiration.
“The carving acknowledges the land Evergreen sits upon and the people that were here long before,” Isakson said. “It really beautifies the entrance to our school. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a connection with the land and the people.”
“It’s so exciting to finally have it,” Isakson added. “The Upper Skagit have been so generous and Mr. Dunthorne’s carving is an amazing addition to our school.”