Memories of Ancestral Honour
Since the historical Snuxyaltw Totem Pole Raising and Potlatch in August 2009, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reminiscing. I particularly think about the 279 Nuxalk who survived the human disaster
of the smallpox epidemic against our people. It was a holocaust of horrendous proportions. For them to survive and to witness the human catastrophe was so courageous. To see the devastation against every village, one after the other. Then to possess immense resilience and wisdom in putting plans into place for our future as Nuxalk people. They had great courage to carry on for us, and leave something for us to continue, so we can carry the torch into the future.
Have we failed. . . I mean today? Have we squandered the honour they left us?
I suppose we have, seeing what is going on; and that is why lately my thoughts
have been depressed, which is different from feeling depressed. Some of the ones
who used to believe, and fight for sovereignty, are now compromising and accepting
salaries. I mean, they work for the enemies, government and industry, and also
embrace the "Indian Act." So very colonialistic! Looking around, I
see limited support for, and understanding of, our ancestral sacrifices for our
It is so disheartening to see, and I feel our supposed leadership grovels over programs and funding, justifying this as some kind of effort to lead our people. The path they are going down on is not our path; it is designed by colonialism. It is the pied piper's path that will lead to the extermination of our existence as a people.
I cannot help but think it is the same way for the grizzly bear today, because they're managed by idiots, and may face extinction soon. The killing must stop, so we must put some effective plans in place to save the bears, just as we also have to save ourselves. The Nuxalk faced extinction in the 1860's, less than 150 years ago; let us survive like our ancestors did and follow the path along which we are supposed to survive.
Let us retain our Nuxalk history, heritage, smayustas, our songs and dances,
our language which sustain our sovereignty. The Nuxalk survivors accomplished
something almost impossible, even today with all the technology available. Their
strength, dedication, and wisdom is incomprehensible. What they did for us has
to be embraced, respected, and honoured forever.
I feel enormous gratitude for the gifts from our ancestors!
Qwatsinas. . .
Q'umk'uts' (Bella Coola)
1 November 2009