Monday, May 16, 2022

Artist, Poet, Activist and Karuk Ceremonial Singer Brian Tripp has Died

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2022 at 3:38 PM

After a long and painful battle with illness, 77-year-old Brian D. Tripp, born in Eureka and raised in Klamath, died May 13. A nationally renowned artist whose work echoed traditional forms in painting and sculpture, Tripp was the 2018 recipient of the California Living Heritage Award from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. His mural "The Sun Set Twice on the People that Day" can be seen beside the Clarke Historical Museum, where it was relocated in 2021.
click to enlarge Brian Tripp at the 2018 California Living Heritage Award ceremony. - FILE
  • File
  • Brian Tripp at the 2018 California Living Heritage Award ceremony.

Along with Tripp's contributions to contemporary American art, he was also instrumental in the revival of traditional Karuk ceremonies and dances, such as the Brush Dance, as both an organizer and singer. Tripp, who was also a Vietnam War veteran, championed Indigenous rights and sovereignty in both his writing and his work as an activist.
click to enlarge A 2021 gathering to honor Brian Tripp at Sumeg Village. - PHOTO BY THOMAS DUNKLIN
  • Photo by Thomas Dunklin
  • A 2021 gathering to honor Brian Tripp at Sumeg Village.
In June of 2021, family, friends and community members gathered to honor Tripp at Sumeg Village in Sue-Meg State Park, with traditional songs, dances and stories, thanking him for his lifetime of work, friendship and mentorship.

Below is a video of Tripp (beginning at 9:45) singing, drumming and reading his poetry — including his poem "The Sun Set Twice on the People that Day" — in Orleans in 2019.

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal.

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