John Clark Carving Bear (LOC)
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress
Born on this date in 1881, woodcarver John Louis Clarke, aka "Cutapuis." He was born in Highwood, Montana Territory, to Blackfoot parents (one of his grandparents was Scottish). The family was devastated in 1883, when five sons died from scarlet fever; the sixth son, John, age 2, survived with deafness; he did not learn to speak after that. He attended schools for Indian and deaf children in North Dakota, Montana, and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, he began working at a factory that made carved church altars. He opened his own carving studio in 1913, and had his first show in Helena in 1916.
Clarke's highly detailed carvings of animals were exhibited widely and popular with buyers. Clarke's wife Mamie acted as his agent until she died in 1947, when their daughter Joyce took over that role so Clarke could concentrate on his carving. The story goes that he had his carving tools with him in the hospital room when he died at 89.