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Na̱wiła (ła̱nx̱a) - Unframed 17x17.5

Artist: Andy Everson

A long time ago, a man was warned by the Creator that the world would be covered by a great flood and that he must wait for a gigantic sea monster named 'Na̱mx̱iyalegiyu, or ‘Something Terrible,’ to rise from the depths. When the rain ceased to stop, this great monster appeared. The man climbed onto its humongous back as it sank once again to the depths of the ocean. The Creator gave the man the supernatural power to breathe underwater as 'Na̱mx̱iyalegiyu protected him.

When the flood had subsided, 'Na̱mx̱iyalegiyu returned the man to the surface of the water and put him ashore at X̱wa̱lkw where the mouth of the Nimpkish river would later appear. The man took on the name ‘Na̱mukustolis, or ‘Only One in the World,’ and became the first ancestor of the ‘Na̱mg̱is people. He was initially so lonely that he ended up snaring some birds and transforming them into humans in order to keep him company.

In honour of the protection given to ‘Na̱mukustolis, his descendants in the T̓sit̓sa̱ł'walag̱a̱me' na̱mi’ma of the 'Na̱mg̱is continue to use ‘Na̱mx̱iyalegiyu as their primary crest. ‘Na̱mx̱iyalegiyu is known to be so immense that the tides rise and fall with its movement. Its face is characterized by a large wide mouth with many teeth and gills set in its cheeks. The center of its forehead features a magic quartz crystal and its brows are surmounted by supernatural horns. It has the body of a halibut and the large dorsal fin of a killer whale. It is so massive that ‘Na̱mukustolis was a mere speck on its back.

All Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw people have origin stories that trace their descent back to the original ancestors.The telling of these stories is called Na̱wiła [NUH-wee-thla] in our language. Part of my proud ancestry goes back to ‘Na̱mukustolis and it is part of my rights to tell this story to you. I designed this as a drum because a lot of the time when I’m sharing stories, I’m also singing them.... I decided to release this design in 5 colour variations denoted by the Kwak̓wala words for blue, white, green, black and yellow: dzasa [DZAH-sa], ‘ma̱la [muh-LAH], ła̱nx̱a [THLIN-ha], t̕suła [TSOO-thla] and t̕łixstu [DLEE-stew], respectively.

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