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Day 6

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 8 months ago

John the Navigator reports:


This day broke full of promise. It was sunny. The overnight high tide (14.8')had turned just short of reaching the tent of Steve and John, and was now quite low. We had a good breakfast of porridge and steaming hot coffee, hiked the food up into the trees and were off on a day trip. Steve promised us we would be blown away by Mamalilacula.


We left our camp (the south corner of Owl Island) about 9:30AM and headed out with a rising tide that would sweep us up Knight Islet in the direction of Village Island.


A 20 min buzzbombing sweep of some kelp beds produced nothing, which is another harbinger that the ecosystem is under duress, not a commentary on our fishing abilities. Consider that this area once supported such a large population of mammals and humans that lived on clams, mussells and salmon, and you can't even pull up a decent sized rock cod today? Despite its broad expanse, the tidal flow through Knight Inlet was strong enough to allow us to play in the current, getting pulled upstream in the rippled patches and then finding the smooth surface of the back eddy to slide back down.


Before we knew it we were opposite Maud Island. We pulled into the beach and flats that once supported 14 longhouses. We found another great hot rock to set out lunch: Fistfuls of gorp, heavy unleavened pumpernickel bread and cheese, and sips of boiled water. See the classic photos of the post lunch group napping. Carrying a newly carved staff that completed his picture as the prophet Isaiah, or better yet, John the Baptist, Murray again swam solo in the freezing water. He found a beautiful zebra patterned butterfly trapped by the surface tension of the still water in the bay, gently lifted and shook it off, and set it free. The creature circled around him and then flew over to the cheering onshore audience, approaching within six inches of several faces, settled on the rock to have its picture taken and then fluttered off into the sunshine.



We swung to the south around the islands in front of Mamalilacula to get the full dramatic effect of the approach. From a distance we saw a long glittering white clamshell beach, a bank over grown with greenery which turned out to be blackberries. Poking out from the bush were the gaunt remains of a few euro style structures in various states of dereliction and collapse and a post and beam structure which was clearly native built.


We found our way up onto the embankment where the settlement was built. Welcomed by a huge pile of bearshit, we walked around the village site along trails hollowed out thru the blackberries which now claim the site. Down one trail, near a forlorn looking fallen totem pole, Peter stepped into human excrement. A house still standing was littered with beer bottles and other trash. Apparently one of the buildings was a hospital. Back in the woods overlooking the village is a domineering sinister-looking residential school. Everything required to assimilate natives, who according to Edward Curtis:


"...have no conception of a personified, supreme power. They believe in many spirits-some inhabiting animal bodies, others purely imaginary-which can and do impart supernatural power to men who obtain their pity by austere bodily purification. The principal ceremony is a series of quasi-religious performances during about four months of the winter. The ceremony is controlled by a fraternity of men, women, and children and the active dancers are divided among a large number of degrees. The various performances consist of the dramatization of myths, the personification of mythic creatures, and the practice of legerdemain. The most important dancer is the "Hamatsa", who is supposed to swallow human flesh in personating the man eating spirit "Pahpaqalanohsiwi"."


For more details on this, take a ride with Dennis the water taxi man. He knows this stuff well.


QUOTES FROM "THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN" by Edward Curtis: "Of all these coast-dwellers the Kwakiutl tribes were one of the most important groups, and, at the present time, theirs are the only villages where primitive life can still be observed. Their ceremonies are developed to the point which fully justifies the term dramatic.They are rich in mythology and tradition. Their sea-going canoes possess the most beautiful lines, and few tribes have built canoes approaching theirs in size. Their houses are large, and skillfully constructed. Their heraldic columns evidence considerable skill in carving.... In their development of ceremonial masks and costumes they are far in advance of any other group of North American Indian."


Full text:


Selected photos:


http://www.fluryco.com/magicpro/detail.asp?folder=573&photo=1422 __Zunokwa but no 3 footer.__

http://www.fluryco.com/magicpro/detail.asp?folder=573&photo=1446 __Bigfoot?__

http://www.fluryco.com/magicpro/detail.asp?folder=573&photo=1424 Ask Murray about Harbledown.

http://www.fluryco.com/magicpro/detail.asp?folder=573&photo=1440 Mamalilacula? There can be no question that these have to be the longhouse post and beam structures that still stand there today. Even in Curtis' 1914 photo the longhouse looks unfinished and abandoned, probably in favor of EuroCanuck style of woodframe housing which probably stood just out of the camera's eye. Look the ground is overgrown with weeds. If you read the next article, all of Curtis’ photos attempt to capture native life pre-columbian, intentionally screening out any sign of euro intervention.




Such is progress. The only creatures living in the area now are bears. I wonder how they get blackberries without tearing their mouths to shreds?


Lionel dug up a link to the full library of Curtis Photos.

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/ecurquery.html Type in "Kwakiutl" for everything he shot including a another great shot of the long house framework at Mamalilacula.

Also, go to http://www.douglasreynoldsgallery.com/. Look thru the masks for sale (as at Sept 14 07) There are two Bookwus masks (pron: buckhoos) for sale one at $7500 and the other at $20,000. Pretty cool.


One thing I learned after our trip is the one place where you can find dungeness crab is in front of Mamalilacula. I noticed the telltale green reeds on the bottom as we were paddling away. By that time I wasn't carrying the crabtrap any more, too discouraged by the results of previous days.


We picked up water from the creek. We thought beer colored water was bad. This water is coffee colored!


Down on the beach near our kayaks a group of people who had apparently arrived by motorboat and docked on the other side of the island was sitting and talking: a young couple, their one year old child, and one younger and one older man. Murray overheard some of the conversation. The old man was telling stories of his growing up here to his son and daughter, her husband and grandson. We exchanged greetings, but missed the opportunity to hear what he had to say.


At 4Pm we started the the paddle back to Owl. By that time the afternoon breeze was up and we stayed south, trying our best to stay in the lee of the winds. The tide was now falling to our benefit. We stayed mostly out of the headwind culminating with one really cool very narrow passage between a small island and Creese near Rocky Point. Then it was into the teeth of the breeze diagonally over to the cover up the Jumbles and then across to Owl. We were back to camp by 6PM to see what we had left in the food bags for dinner.


It turned out to be the Knorr/Lipton (M&A of the food giants) glorified macaroni and cheese, and grilled Hormel reconstituted ham steaks, which was hot and tasty after a long hard day of paddling. We boiled our Mama water and made hot chocolate, laced it with brandies and quaffed it to no ill effect. "Real men drink black water." Nutella stores held up so no one went hungry!


Steve and Lionel provided some great entertainment that I'll let them describe.


We contacted Dennis and he agreed to pick us up at Owl about 1:30 the next day. We were relieved that we didn't have to move camp again. This bunch of mostly sexagenarians had spent enough time cramped in our small vessells for this trip!


Murray's pome




journey into past


low tide pause

with minimal clam find

leaves coffee oatmeal


to bring in silent sunshine

and search for mythical longhouses

where rescued floating butterfly

mixes political reprobates’

sexual fantasies

and peanut butter jelly

afternoon movie memories

with deep clam shell beaches

and totem village ruins


august 26

owl island – mamalilacula – owl island


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