Snuxyaltwa Totem Pole Raising

Placing Our Totem Pole at Talyu – 19 August 2009

In Nuxalk culture, totem poles have always been used as territory, land and grave markers. In addition, each longhouse had a totem pole to let the Nuxalkmc (Bella Coola People) know where they came from. The Nuxalkmc had over 300 villages within our Territory. Our families still carry many traditional names from these Nuxalk villages. For example, the Talyuumc families of Snow (Snuxyaltwa), Andy, Schooner, Tallio and Hans all come from the village of Talyu.

Some Hereditary Chiefs carry Smuyustas, which are the Story of Origin from the beginning of time. The Snuxyaltwa Totem Pole at Talyu tells our Smayusta or Story of Origin. The Loon is on top, the Whale is towards the bottom with the Grizzly, Thunderbird, Yulm and Sun. This is the first totem pole to be raised in our Home Land at Talyu. The main carver was Harry Schooner. Assistants were Joe Mack, Richard Pollard and Art Saunders. Visitors from all corners of the world (including Holland, Germany, New Zeeland, Hong Kong and England) came to Talyu to witness the historic Talyuumc event. Nuxalkmc chiefs are now talking about using totem poles to mark their ancestral lands.

Raising a totem pole makes us happy; this is the 'Way of Our People' and the 'Way' the Creator has given us to remind us of who we are, where we come from, and what our purpose is here on Mother Earth. The Snuxyaltwa Family would like to thank all those who have helped us. Good strong spirits keep us on the right road. Let's make the Nuxalkmc circle bigger and stronger. Way! Chief Snuxyaltwa, Bella Coola, 1 September 2009

Harry Schooner – Totem Pole Carver

Right: Harry Schooner beats his drum in 2009 as he arrives at Talyu on South Bentinck to raise the Snow Totem Pole. Talyu is Harry's ancestral village and the Schooner Family are Talyuumc.

As the photos below show, the logistics of delivering the giant totem pole, which was carved in Bella Coola, to the remote village site at Talyu were very complex and involved dozens of helpers. Raising the pole was also a collaborative act.

Above: Cedar log for the Snuxyaltwa (Snow) Totem Pole in a Bella Coola carving shed. Harry Schooner was the primary carver with Joe Mack, Richard Pollard and Art Saunders (Silyas) assisting.

Left: The pole was raised on 19 August 2009 at Talyu (South Bentinck) to mark sovereign Nuxalk Territory and to protect the land and water from exploitation by the government and logging corps. It tells the Snuxyaltwa Smayusta (Story of Origin) with the Loon on top and the Whale, Grizzly, Thunderbird, Yulm and Sun.

2009 – Nuxalk totem pole facing the sea at Talyu, South Bentinck

1913 – Nuxalk totem poles facing the sea at Talyu, South Bentinck

Some of Our Guests at Talyu – 19 August 2009

Snuxyaltwa Potlatch – 20 & 21 August 2009

Invitation to Snuxyaltwa Totem Pole Raising and Potlatch

During these four wonderful days of the Snuxyaltwa Potlatch, totem pole raising, canoeing, traditional weddings, dancing, singing, gift giving, healing and honouring have all taken place.

We wish to thank all of you who have supported us: without your help this special occasion would not have been possible.

Way! and may the Creator be with you all,

Chief Snuxyaltwa


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