Dennis Allen

Dennis Allen is a member of the Skokomish (Twana) tribe. He was born in Shelton, Washington in 1935, and is the son of William Allen and Rose Pulsifer. His grandfather, Henry Allen, was one of the last carvers on the Skokomish Reservation, and also one of the major contributors to an extensive anthropological study of the Twana people.

Allen has lived on the Skokomish Reservation all of his life. After losing his father at age seven he went to live with his grandmother, Katie Pulsifer, where he was exposed to every aspect of his culture. He made baskets with his elders, prepared traditional food, gathered materials and medicines and learned the legends. His first encounter with steaming and bending wood, resulting in his current bentwood boxes, came from building canoes in the community.

However, it was not until relatively late in life that Allen decided to become an artist. Inspired by his son, Andy Wilbur, he left his job as a logger and fisherman and began carving and painting full-time.

Allen is an active member of his community, and contributes to the revival of Coast Salish art by developing his own style, which reflects many of the legends that were passed down to him. His award-winning wood panels, bentwood boxes and prints are distinctive and precise, and it is obvious that he creates from the heart as a way to connect to his roots.