“Yo Namukw Gilakas’la
On this totem I have an eagle with a human being born out of its chest. It sits atop a killer whale.
The eagle is seen as the dominant bird within the bird kingdom. Our ancestors soon discovered that the eagle is dominant over the food chain and will harvest all other birds. Often you will see two or more eagles continually diving on their prey until one of them is timed successfully. The Kwakwaka’wakw adopted the “eagle seat” in their potlatch system. A young man would hold an eagle seat until his hereditary position is transferred.
The killer whale is seen as the dominant animal with the sea kingdom. They are highly organized and very successful. A history of the Kingdom of the Sea tells of the Kumokwa, the chief of the undersea realm, whose human servants would take the form of a killer whale when they left the house.
I will share a history that tells of the creation of the Goose Islands.
The history speaks of a great war that took place between an eagle and a killer whale. During the battle, the eagle takes the killer whale into the sky where in wins over the whale’s strength. The eagle then tore the killer whale apart. Its body fell into the sea and became the Goose Islands.
These islands off the central coast of British Columbia are part of the Heithtsak First Nations and this history belongs to their chief. This area is magnificent, full of a huge population of life forces.
The symbolism of these characters has inspired people the world over and are part of many people’s history.”