Namgis First Nation Big House, Alert Bay, BC, June 4, 2010

I was lucky to be present at two ceremonies in the Namgis Nation Big House on June 4 and 5, 2010. The first one was the presentation of Kwakwala dances by the students of the Alert Bay public school. I was fascinated by the unforgettable atmosphere created by the combination of the big structure, drumbeat, singing and dancing, fire and thin cedar scented smoke. Here are two mp4 video clips of the parts of two different dances from this presentation:
Clip 1 (29.8 MB) - note the hollowed log used as a drum
Clip 2 (9 MB)

Chief of Kwagu'ł to the ethnographer Franz Boas on Oct. 7, 1886:

  Is this the white man's law?
  We are told it is the Queen's land. But no! It is mine.
Where was the Queen when our God gave this land to my grandfather and
told him, "This will be thine"? My father owned the land and was a
mighty chief; now it is mine.
  Do we ask the white man, "Do as the Indian does?" It is a strict law that
bids us dance. It is a strict law that bids us distribute our property
among our friends and neighbours. It is a good law. Let the white man
observe his law; we shall observe ours. And now, if you came to forbid us
dance, begone. If not, you will be welcome to us.
(Kwagu'ł is a kwakwala First Nation of Fort Rupert, BC)

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