Ancestral Link with Grizzly Bears

"You can put on your dancing blanket and say that you're proud to be from the House of the Grizzly Bear, or you can put on your dancing blanket and say that your Grandfather was a Raven, or you can say that you are proud to be a Killer Whale . . .

but what is happening to the Grizzly Bear? To the Raven? To the Killer Whale? They're getting kicked out of their House . . .

what are you doing about it? And you put on your blanket and say you're proud? I don't think so. It doesn't work that way" Nuxalk Elder Elsie Jacobs.

Right: Nuxalk man in traditional dress wearing a crown of grizzly bear claws, c. 1920. Photograph in the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Memories of Ancestral Honour and Sacrifice

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 sovereignty.

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

Tatsquan Rip Rap Grizzly Project
Photos by Edward Moody (Qwatsinas)

Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunting in British Columbia

It makes me very angry to know grizzlies are being shot for the glory of a trophy hunt. I am truly ashamed. We call ourselves "human beings." It turns my stomach to know how far we have dipped in loving and caring for these majestic animals. How has the love been lost? They are our families, our brothers and sisters. Like us, they are trying to live and make a life for themselves.

How would you feel if instead of waking up for a morning meal, you faced a gun barrel? In nature, this is not the way it is supposed to be. When I see grizzly bears having fun, enjoying life, and loving their own families; I can't help but love them. If a grizzly bear could read the morning paper, he or she would want to know how we humans were doing. If we were in trouble, the grizzly would want to help us. We must love nature because nature has always been there for us and given us love. Now we must give our love to the grizzly and the black bears. Stop killing them; it is not who we are. We are human beings and we must know better.

Qwatsinas. . .

Protocol between the Nuxalk Staltmc and the Central Coast Grizzly Patrol – Nuxalk Division
Signed 11 November 2011.


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