Dennis King of the Shinnecock/Montauk and Mohegan people is a quiet man with a great talent and heritage. Samson Oacum, full blood Mohegan, founder of Dartmoth College was Dennis’ great great grandfather. His people, the Shinnecock people of Eastern Long Island (NY) and the Montauk with whom they are closely associated are great craftsmen and artists. A talented, creative artist himself, King retired from LIRR as an Inspector who spent twenty-two years on the rails, looking forward to building a dream workshop on the Shinnecock reservation where he grew up.
King, who works mostly in elk and deer antler, cedar, black walnut, alabaster and soap-stone has evolved from his start in carving duck decoys to carving a variety of subjects in a multiplicity of media and technique.
Learning technique early on from Norman Smith, a Shinnecock artist and woodcarver of note, who showed him how to carve a Shinnecock scrub, a traditional hand-carved wooden brush and his first duck decoy, which have an ancient tradition among American Indians and the Shinnecock people in particular. It was years later that Dennis would became greatly inspired by the work of his friend, Oneida craftsman, Chip Isaacs, who is a well known wood, shell and bone carver.
Now carving for over thirteen years, he acquires materials to carve from friends who go deer hunting, wood he finds himself, and stone he purchases from supply houses. It is from these materials that King has created lamps (from driftwood), wooden staffs, knife handles, Indian heads, stone animals, key chains and jewelry boxes. King also uses high-speed carving tools and chisels Dennis has become skilled in power-carving.
Having a background of enjoying the outdoor life, King likes to work outside as often as weather allows. Graceful, contemporary, detailed and unique, the "King" style has been recognized by juries at numerous powwows and art festivals in the New York region, including Queens Farm, Mohegan, Shinnecock, Vision Quest Arts Festival, and Gateway to the Nations. His work is also displayed at the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum on the Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton, NY.
King, lives with his wife and two children and often works in the basement workshop of his comfortable home in Long Island.
Mohegan Wigwam Powwow and Arts Festival
2001 – 2nd Place
2002 – 2nd & 3rd Place
2003 – 3rd Place
2004 – 2nd Place