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Clifton Fred was born in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, as a Crow from the great Tlingit Tribe. He began drawing in grade one and taught himself to express his feelings and experiences about his people in a medium of drawing and poetry. His poems are not to tell the viewers what the drawing is, but only to inform them of what he was thinking while drawing the image.
Clifton learned to write and draw at the same time and cannot feel one without the other. He has not pursued any secondary training in art and knows very little of art history other than that the Tlingit have always honoured the other lives which sustain their existence through their art, which is not separated from living and religion.
As the foundation of their existence, their visual designs are the unforgotten language, the contemporary cave drawing, the petrified footprint that tells of an experience. His personal beliefs and the practice of Native Spirituality lead him to perceive animals as greater beings than himself and that his existence is dependent upon their presence and not theirs upon his. He hopes that others with compassion and concern will share this attitude towards life in all forms.