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Background information on Zunoqua and the Broughton Archipelago

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago


Howdy gents, between laundry loads and pot scrubbing, I did some research on d'sonoqua's and mamalilacula. No direct reference to where the clams all went. Echo Bay is another huge midden. Some interesting photos of mama. It's going down fast. Lots of links if you want to explore. Interesting stuff.



The David Suzuki link talks about how cedar was used and engineered to form their homes.



Great memories keep popping into my head. It was a refreshing break. You all were awesome to be with. I enjoyed every minute of it.


What's Ian's email?



A tout a l'heure






Emily Carr: Zunoqua, watercolor,44.3 x 31.8 cm. Location: Vancouver Art Gallery, VAG 42.31.1.© Vancouver Art Gallery



Painting, textiles, masks, bent wood boxes, carvings in wood, bone, ivory, horn, argillite and fine metals from the size of a child's ring to totem poles as monumental as those erected in the nineteenth century--all are produced today. Considering the vitality of contemporary Native totemic art in galleries all along the Northwest Coast, it's hard to believe that for a time, Emily Carr was concerned that its fate might be eventual disappearance.



Of particular interest to Carr was the ogress Dzunukwa (also spelled D'Sonoqua and Zunoqua), wild woman of the woods representing the dark and dangerous side of Canadian wilderness, stealer of children yet bringer of wealth to the Kwakwaka'wakw. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss indicates an ambiguity in gender as well as in attitude--sometimes hostile, sometimes not.



Stanley Park D'Sonoqua totem --Maurice Jassek



Emily encountered Dzunukwa several times in different villages. Of one, she wrote, "The great wooden image towering above me was indeed terrifying." Of another, "The whole figure expressed power, weight, domination rather than ferocity... The fingers were thrust into the carven mouths of two human heads, held crowns down. From behind, the sun made unfathomable shadows in eye, cheek and mouth. Horror tumbled out of them." Yet of a third, she wrote, "She appeared to be neither wooden nor stationary, but a singing spirit, young and fresh, passing through the jungle. No violence coarsened her; no power domineered to wither her. She was graciously feminine.















Mamalilacula on Village Island



 If you want to know more about the local culture it’s to be found at nearby Village Island, also known as Mamalilcula or the Village of the Last Potlatch.


Here, in a forest setting amid deserted buildings, Tom Sewid, grandson of author James Aul Sewid ("Guests Never Leave Hungry") rolls up his jeans, pulls on traditional costume, and relates the stories and legends of his people.


There never was a last potlatch. The government was unable to stamp out the ceremonies. They simply went underground, much to the chagrin of government agents who even employed spies to find out what was happening. "There cannot be a village of the last potlatch because that will never happen," says Sewid in a performance that is a fascinating mix of history and theatre - even if the finale was quite unrehearsed.


Stopping to inspect an old totem pole we sensed we were being watched. Then someone spotted it. In the trees, less than eight metres from us, was a large black bear, watching us - and her cub - sitting in a tree branch above our heads. "Let’s go," says Sewid. No one required second bidding.








    •     Grizzly bears around Knight Inlet emerge from hibernation in spring (starting in April) to feed on the succulent new spring growth. Viewing peaks during fall (late August) when the salmon are running, as grizzlies converge on the salmon spawning streams to feed on the salmon and stock their fat reserves in preparation for winter ahead.

    •     Knight Inlet provides access to the mighty Klinaklini River, set deep in the Coast Mountains. Wild and seldom visited, the Klinaklini is one of the wildest river systems remaining in British Columbia - and possibly the world.



The Kwakwaka'waka village of Mamalilaculla on Village Island in the Broughton Archipelago


    • A popular destination for kayakers near the mouth of Knight Inlet is the Kwakwaka'waka village of  Mamalilaculla, on Village Island in the Broughton Archipelago. Now abandoned, the native village is a fascinating site, evidencing traditional cedar house posts of the Kwakwaka'waka period and later post-European dwellings.

    •     When the dominion government and missionaries conspired to outlaw the potlatch in 1884, masks, drums, carvings, coppers and other potlatch articles were confiscated and removed to museums in central Canada. Village Island was the scene of one such raid in 1921. Since returned, these magnificent symbols of Kwakwaka'waka heritage and culture are now on display at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center (formerly Kwagiulth Museum) on Quadra Island, the U'mista Cultural Center in Alert Bay, and the Campbell River Museum.

    •     Visit the U'mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island to view elaborately carved cedar masks depicting the Potlatch ceremony of the Kwakwaka'waka People. This first-rate museum and cultural showcase is a must-see for anyone interested in Northwest Coast art and culture. The Cultural Centre is dedicated to forging links between the Kwakwaka'waka past, present and future.

    •     The western end of Knight Inlet is a part of the Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous inlets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Gilford Island. The islands in the marine park are undeveloped and are largely undiscovered. Facilities are limited to a day-use recreation. The numerous remote, solitary islands incorporated in the park provide unlimited and unique fishing and swimming opportunities, and are fabulous for exploring by kayak.





Boats, Bears, and British Columbia

by Phil Swigard



With the gray and rainy days of early spring beginning to show signs of sunnier and warmer weather to come (hope does spring eternal), a boat fanatic's thoughts turn to plans for heading north. His head is filled with visions of quiet coves, snowcapped peaks, and cities left far behind.


Unfortunately, visions of bears also filled my wife Sandy's head. Sandy remembered all the bears we had seen on past cruises to northern B.C. and Alaska, and she reminded me that we now have a dog -- a dog that must be taken ashore three times a day. Ashore where the bears are. As if I needed reminding -- about the dog, that is.


Buffy the Wonder Dog had moved in with us and taken over our lives long before we bought a boat again the year before. I have unfortunately learned a lot about the need to take her ashore three (or more) times a day.


With bears in mind, my first call was to Canada Customs, to see if we could still take a shotgun into Canada. Their answer was yes we could. I then asked about pepper spray. The Customs Officer said absolutely not, no, under no circumstances could we bring pepper spray into Canada. Dire consequences would follow us if we did. I was reminded that the Mounties always get their man, or something to that effect.


I then asked if we could bring "bear spray" into Canada. He said yes, indeedy, we could. No problem.


To be sure we were on the same channel, I pointed out that bear spray was pepper spray. It was just in a larger container, with much more of the stuff in the container, and capable of incapacititating a bear at 15 feet. The only difference was that it said Bear Spray on the label.


The Customs Officer said he knew that, but bear spray was just fine. We could bring in cases of the stuff. It was pepper spray that wasn't allowed.


Isn't the bureaucratic mind in action a wonder to behold?


Navigator, our little 28-foot Camano, did not have much room in her. "Little" is definitely the operative word. Storage space was at a premium, and I made much of not taking anything we didn't absolutely need. In fact, we took everything off the boat, put it on the dock, then put back aboard only those things we had used last year, and felt we must have.


Given the later spousal input regarding the matter, I did not take the shotgun.


Next came the annual boat haulout. Unfortunately, Sandy has gone on strike when it comes to painting boat bottoms. She felt that she had painted boat bottoms for almost 30 years off and on, and she had done her share. I had to admit that she was right.


So on June 1 I was off to Port Townsend solo to coat the bottom, and most of myself, with bottom paint. It is an annual ritual that boat fanatics go through. I actually enjoyed it. I must be developing a masochistic streak.


Finally, on June 21st, the longest day of the year, having run out of room for more provisions, books, clothes, and reasons for further delay, we cast off and headed up "the Coast." (All the longtime Canadian cruising folk reverently refer to the Inside Passage waters of B.C. as "the Coast.")


As anyone who has cruised these waters knows, Desolation Sound, at the north end of the Strait of Georgia, is where the truly beautiful country begins. To continue north from Desolation Sound, we broke out the current tables to be sure we went through the Yuculta Rapids at slack water, always a prudent move. We arrived at Big Bay on Stuart Island to find great changes from our visit so many years ago. We expected change, but it was still a shock.


A brand new lodge had been built, with beautiful, manicured grounds. Across the rapids, a 5-star fishing resort now existed, where, I was told, for only $1200 per day per person, you could get a room, three meals, and even a boat and guide for the day.


Big new lodges weren't the only changes to come to Stuart Island. Big money has also found this remote island, and I do mean Big Money. Peter Tagarres, the late potato king of Idaho, had bought much land around the point toward Arran Rapids. He spent millions of dollars putting in roads, planting trees, building a guesthouse, and installing a power station that could easily power the whole area. He also put in a dock, and a breakwater made of hundreds of 6-foot-diameter heavy equipment tires held together with stainless steel plates and cables. Peter used to go clamming and oystering in his Jet Ranger helicopter. Those were pricey clams and oysters!


Next door, the owner of a huge auction company literally carved off the top of a mountain and put in a 2300-foot-long airstrip, complete with a huge hangar and a guesthouse that would knock you socks off. His personal, not-so-modest digs are down on the waterfront.


And even this has been outdone by another neighbor, who has put in a 9-hole PGA-certified private golf course. He didn't build one mansion; he built several, all of stone. From the water it looks like a compound of castles.


We hiked up a rough road to the Tagarres place and talked to the caretaker for a while. She was a delight, and told us some other boaters had come over a few weeks earlier, gone out to the elaborate deck, sat down, and waited to order drinks. They thought they were visiting a luxury resort.


After we more or less recovered from the culture shock of Stuart Island, we meandered north to what are called the Broughtons, and eventually to one of our old favorites, the abandoned Indian village of Mamalilaculla. Mamalilaculla isn't the correct Indian name of the village, but it is about as close as the British charting of the area could come.


The magnificent old totem poles that once stood in the bushes along the beach were gone. Only one old totem pole remained, and it was lying rotting on the ground, slowly disappearing back into the soil. When it is gone, nothing will be left.


We had never seen anyone at Mamalilaculla during our earlier visits. The closest we came to seeing another living thing was when we walked around some blackberry bushes in August, when the berries were ripe, and found a pile of bear scat -- with steam rising off it in the morning air. We were not alone that day!


A number of conventional houses were built in the 1920s, and their remains still stand, but barely. When we went ashore this time we found a group of kayakers on the beach, and an Indian named Tom Sewid, who was about to give them a guided tour of the village. We joined the tour.


Tom Sewid is a real character, and loves to tell stories about the history of his people. The longhouses that existed less than a centrury ago and had existed for hundreds or thousands of years before then, were the homes of his ancestors. He knew what he was talking about.


Not only was Tom full of Indian legends and stories, but he knew something of modern archeological techniques as well. He has taken courses at the University of Victoria, and was mapping all his tribe's village sites and middens. Tom said the midden at Mamalilaculla has been carbon dated back more than 6000 years. And there is evidence, he said, that the site may have been occupied 30,000 years ago, perhaps earlier than that.


About 20 years ago we were exploring this area by dinghy, and we stumbled on a burial island by accident. We saw something in the trees and went ashore to see what it was. That something was a wooden casket high in the branches of a tree. As we looked around we found many more parts of wooden boxes in trees. The ground was littered with bones and skulls. It was an unsettling experience.


After our tour of the village, Tom said his own boat was anchored around the corner in Native Anchorage, and why didn't we move our boat over and drop the hook there for the night? Good idea, so we did. Tom had a campfire going on the beach when we arrived, and after the boat was all secure, Sandy, Buffy and I piled into the dinghy and went ahsore. Tom had caught a bunch of crabs, and we had an impromptu crab feast while sitting around the fire. A lone kayaker had come ashore to join us and camp for the night.


We ate only a little of the crab, but our dog Buffy more than made up for that. As we ate a piece of crab we would throw the shells onto the beach. The shells usually had some meat in them, and Buffy made a sincere and focused effort to eat every one of them. We weren't watching her or we would have put a stop it it. She threw up crab shells for the next two days.


The reason we weren't paying much attention to Buffy was that Tom was mesmerizing us with bear stories. In the fall, Tom is a professional guide and hunts bears -- black bears and grizzly bears. And did he have some stories to tell. I think he had a great time scaring the pants off us.


But the stories were true, or at least mostly true. Tom always has his can of bear spray on his belt, and a rifle nearby. As we sat around the fire in the darkness, Tom told us that one time he had as a client the head of a company that makes a well-known brand of shotguns and rifles. The client had with him an employee with a video camera to record the hunt. The client was using a semi-automatic rifle made by his company. The video of the hunt was intended for advertising use.


Most of the bear hunting in this area is done on the beaches, and Tom found a big grizzly for his client. Well, the client shot the bear, but the bear wasn't slowed down at all and kept coming. The client tossed the gun to Tom, and took off. Tom brought the rifle to his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. The rifle had jammed after the first round. This was not good news, as the very annoyed bear had shifted into high gear and was getting mighty close.


Tom said that he scarcely had time to get out his bear spray and let the bear have a full blast as he fell over backwards. The bear went over the top of him and Tom followed with the spray. The good news was that the spray really worked. That was one screwed-up bear, sneezing and rolling around on the ground. Almost as good, from Tom's point of view, was the client, who had been a slow runner and got a dose of the bear spray. Appropriately enough, he was rolling around on the ground along with the bear.


The employee, who was hiding behind a tree, captured all of it on video. The video came out great, but wasn't much of a success, advertising-wise.


This was a very encouraging story for us, as we had never talked to someone who had actually used bear spray. We didn't have our shotgun, but we did have our bear spray.


Tom had an old travel trailer that he somehow had pulled up on the beach behind us, and he suggested that we go up and see where the local bears had ripped off most of one side. We did and we were impressed. That trailer was toast after the bears got through with it.


When we got back to the fire, someone suggested that bears would leave you alone if you make lots of noise. He personally was a fan of bear bells. Tom grinned, and asked if any of us knew the difference between black bear scat and grizzly bear scat. When no one did, Tom gleefully told us that it is easy to tell the difference -- grizzly scat usually has bear bells in it.


Our kayaker, who was planning to sleep on the beach that night, was beginning to look a little nervous. I couldn't resist asking him if he knew what bears called kayakers in sleeping bags. He didn't, so I told him -- sandwiches! He didn't think I was very funny.


It was a beautiful evening with the stars out overhead, a nice fire, and lots of bear and Indian legend stories from a master storyteller. But the fire burned down, people began to yawn, and it was time to go back to the boat. I was glad we were on our nice, warm boat, anchored securely far out from the beach that night.


In the morning I awoke with some curiosity to see if the kayaker was still there and in one piece. I got out the binnoculars and sure enough, he was. But I bet he didn't sleep very well that night.




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