culture

Nawalakw means “Supernatural” in kwak̓wala, the language spoken in this territory for thousands of years.

This geography cradles our origin stories that trace back millennia. We are a people of the land who both harvest from and protect one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems.

Language plays a critical role in our culture and way of life. Nawalakw represents medicine for our people, and a deep connection to the values taught by our ancestors about how to live and thrive, in unity with nature and with each other.

From traditional harvesting and language practices, to songs, stories and the creation and preservation of regalia and art, Nawalakw will bring healing to our people, and allow us to share in the beauty of our people, our land and our culture with others.

Our aim is to ensure our language and culture not only survives, but thrives.

the crest

The concept of the central design is the sun’s core with four circles representing the Musga’makw Dzawada̱’enux̱w ‘The Four Tribes of Kingcome Inlet’. The four stylized circles are inspired by an ancient tattoo design symbolizing the face of the sun. The rising sun is the Creator’s promise of another day and a chance for a new beginning, if we choose to take it.

The sun’s ring is designed with the four ancestors of the Musga’makw Dzawada̱’enux̱w. Each ancestor has an equal space completing the ring, symbolizing equality and unity. The bottom figure is the face of Ts̕eḵam̱a’yi ‘Head Winter Dancer’, the Shaman ancestor of the Ḵwikwa̱sutinux̱ ‘Gilford Island People’.

He is adorned with the sacred red cedar bark, a symbol of his spiritual power and blessings. His headdress also had long cedar bark strands that cascade down from the sides of his unique headpiece. Ts̕eḵam̱a’yi’s hands with palms facing forward connect to the two ancestral wolf brothers Ḵawadiliḵa̱la ‘Listened To’ and Kwa̱lili ’Slow in The House’. These two brothers are the ancestors of the Dzawada̱’enux̱w ‘Kingcome Inlet People’ and the Ha̱xwa’mis ‘Wakeman Sound People’. These two wolves had the ability to transform into humans and also had Shamanistic power. The two wolves’ tongues reach out and touch the Thunderbird’s horns symbolizing communication and connection. The top figure is Gayaxala ‘Coming Down from Above’, the ancestral Thunderbird of the Gwawa’enuxw ‘Hopetown People’. The Thunderbird has spiral horns indicating its ability to transform and supernatural power. Gayaxala also had the power to become a human at will.

The outer rays of the design are the rays of the sun. There are four rays as that is the sacred number of our people. The rays project towards the four directions. This connects to the history when Kawadilikala chanted over sacred down feathers and transformed them into various species of birds. He told the birds to fly to the ends of the world and

they would become the ancestors of other races and their different sounds would become the different languages of the world. The number ‘four’ is also instilled in our teachings of holistic health and well-being. The four components of our being that we strive to keep in balance are the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

The colours chosen to decorate the design are red, yellow, black and white. These colours connect to the four races of people that share this universe. The colours are distributed evenly, again symbolizing equality and unity. Red is the colour of life and nobleness. Yellow is the colour of growth and renewal. Black is the colour of supernatural and protection. White is the colour of spirit and purity.

The sun is the life-force of our world. It follows a sacred journey each day and its appearance in the morning guides our prayers and gratitude to our Creator in the most sacred direction, the east. Ts̕eḵam̱a’yi had the power over life and death.

Ts̕eḵam̱a’yi was blessed with the sacred red cedar bark regalia, our ceremonial protection gifted by our Creator to wear when we want to shift our energy and feel good about who we are. Ts̕eḵam̱a’yi’s ceremonies recognize and remind us of the four sacred elements of life, air, water, fire and earth.

Wolves bring the teaching of family and unity. Wolf is the chief of the land animals and is respected by the entire animal kingdom. Wolves also teach us that in order to survive together, there has to be order and a social organization that must be honored by all.

Thunderbirds are messengers and helpers of the Creator. In many of our stories, we are reminded how our ancestors prayed and reached out for help, and the Creator answered by sending mighty Thunderbirds. Thunderbirds remind us of the spiritual protection and power of our Creator and the daily gratitude that we should have for the Creator.