Rise - Unframed 17 x 22
Artist: Andy Everson
In myth times, Umeł was known as “Chief-of-the-Ancients” or Raven personified. He was at once both trickster and transformer. During these times of immense change, turbulence, and darkness, Umeł brought light into the world. Because we never had any rivers or streams at that time, Umeł emptied out a sea lion’s bladder full of water and thus created the river systems throughout our territory. He did this so that the salmon could return up stream and feed the people. Umeł also instructed people on how to use cedar bark and how to make clothes and blankets. In memory of this, our leaders continue to give feasts and potlatches to this day: distributing salmon and blankets to share our wealth with our neighbours.
In the old days, our leaders were taught from birth on how to act as a noble person…on how to best serve the people…on how to follow the example of giving set forth by Umeł. They were instructed about the great burden of responsibility that comes with being a leader. Being so fundamentally connected to all the people in their care, they had no choice but to lift their people up. They were taught that they would rise or fall alongside the people.
Slowly over time, this type of leadership has decayed. Whether driven by greed, ego, ambition or simply apathy, some of our leaders have journeyed down a dark path. They have come to seek personal gain over community interest. While most leaders begin their journeys with good hearts, not all are able to maintain this true course.
Where does this leave us today? We are left gazing into the eyes of our would-be leaders…waiting for them to remove the mask…waiting for them to put their community first. We want leaders who are not afraid to wear the mantle of Umeł…those who are able to bring light into the darkness…those who are driven to lead their people to Rise!
About The Artist
Andy Everson was born in Comox B.C. in 1972 and named Nagedzi after his grandfather, Chief Andy Frank. His cultural interests lay with both his Comox and Kwakwaka'wakw ancestries and are expressed through dancing, singing, and even the pursuit of a Master's degree in anthropology. Andy feels that my artwork stands on par with these other accomplishments.
Although he began drawing Northwest Coast art at an early age, his first serious attempt wasn't until 1990 when He started designing and painting chilkat-style blankets for use in potlatch dancing. From these early self-taught lessons he has tried to follow in the footsteps of m Kwakiutl relatives in creating bold and unique representations that remain rooted in the age-old traditions of his ancestors.