Michael is of the Nisga'a, Tlingit and Tsimshian Nation; his traditional name is Goothl T'similx, which means "the heart of the beaver lodge". He belongs to the Beaver/Eagle clan. The Nisga'a originate from the Nass River valley of northern British Columbia. It is about 500 miles from Vancouver, BC.
Michael began learning his people's ways at an early age by attending traditional feast/ceremonies and gathering/preparing traditional foods and performing in his families dance group.
Michael began studying North West Cast art while still attending high school in Metlakatla, Alaska.
Striving to understand and appreciate his people's rich art form, he then majored in history at the University of Alaska South East-Ketchikan. In 1994 Michael began a yearlong apprenticeship under his Uncle, Master Carver Randy Adams of Prince Rupert, BC. From his uncle, Michael learned two demsional plaque and panel carving, mask making and design.
Wanting to continue his education, Michael moved to the Seattle area. Where he since joined the Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers led by David Boxley a renowned Alaskan Tsimishian Artiest and Carver. In 1998 Mr. Boxley wanting to pass his knowledge, accepted Michael's request to become his apprentice. The apprenticeship included learning design and carving, also preparing for numerous shows and exhibits, including three totem poles.
Regularly returning home to Kincolith each year Michael still studies oral history and protocol from his grandmother Louise Barton-Dangeli. Michael has since relocated to British Columbia where he has created and implemented an art and carving based program called the House of Culture.
The House of Culture takes a holistic approach teaching art and culture to children, youth, adults and elders. The House of Culture offers classes, workshops and seminars to new, emerging and artist in general.
Michael's works include design, regalia, masks, rattles, paddles, spoon and ladles, skin and box drums, bent wood boxes, several silk-screen prints, and seven totem poles. He has had the privilege of demonstrating North West Coast art in British Columbia, Ontario, Austria, Malaysia, Germany, Alaska, Washington and Indiana, Idaho, Iowa.