Saturday, August 13, 2005

Alert Bay


Alert Bay, originally uploaded by macatay.

Alert Bay, BC: Indian town on the north end of Vancouver Island. A museum full of the masks and magic objects taken from the Kwakiutl after their last, illegal potlatch around 1920, and returned to them when the error of the white law was understood. Totems in the old burial ground include this one, which I think is the spirit Dzonq’wa, but also looks to me like a story teller.

The Kwakiutl stories as recorded by Franz Boas and other anthropologists are confusing to me – something about the rhythm of speech or the context is missing, and I don’t understand the meanings. And now the First Nations people in Alert Bay are talking into cell phones, although the older people still have the hushed, gentle speech patterns that make them seem as if they are murmuring into the phone, and I imagine that maybe they are telling the old stories.

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