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Sisiutl Hunter - 20 x 26 Unframed

Artist: Tom Hunt

"Ts'igis is like a giant bullhead with a long, long tongue. The word refers to the action of lying on the beach or in deep water, leering upwards. The Transformer left his younger brother at Cape Scott and walked down the east coast of Vancouver Island to Cash Creek. That is where the Quatsino people lived at the time of creation. The village seemed to be deserted, except for one boy. 'Hello there, young man,' said the Transformer to the boy. 'Why are you all alone and looking so lost?' He could see that others in the village had not been gone long as some of the houses still had lodge fires burning. 'There is just me and my Grandfather left,' said the boy. The boy looked very thirsty. The Transformer asked, 'Where did the rest of the people go?' Then he pointed towards Cash Creek and said, 'There is a good place to go get water. Come and have a drink.' 'I don't want a drink! I'm not thirsty,' exclaimed the boy. 'My Grandmother says not to go there, because something is down in the deep part of the water. It is the Ts'igis. Its tongue can go under the sand and every time someone goes near - not even all the way to the shore - the tongue takes him into its mouth!' 'Don't be afraid, admonished the Transformer. 'Come on, you can get some water.' He took off his belt, Two-Headed Serpent, and put it around the boy's waist. The boy said, 'No! No! I'm scared! My mother was really thirsty and she went down there and now she's gone.' 'You go and get some water,' repeated the Transformer. 'You don't have to be scared of that thing. You don't have to be scared.' So the boy, with Two-Headed Serpent around him, walked slowly toward the water carrying a bucket in his hand. Suddenly, the creature's tongue came and whisked the boy into its mouth. The Transformer was not disturbed. He sat down and sang a little song, beating time with rocks that were on the beach: 'Start the belt moving, Start the belt moving.' In the monster's stomach the belt started moving. Soon, the creature surfaced, swam to the beach and threw up the whole tribe. Some of the people were bones, some were just hanging out together, and others were still fresh. The boy came out too. He was very happy and still had the belt around him. The Transformer said to the boy, 'With the Two-Headed Serpent you can help me put these bones together again. You think the people are dead, but they are only sleeping. Look - if you had refused to go near the water, you wouldn't have got your people back and you'd probably be dead too.' They started to assemble the bones. It was sometimes hard to fit the proper foot or arm to the right person or the proper head to the proper body. When the bones were all put together, the Transformer sprinkled them with the water if life and people became themselves again. They started getting up, their eyes wild because they did not know what had happened to them. 'You've been inside that thing,' said the Transformer, gesturing toward the creature on the beach. With that he grabbed Ts'igis by the neck and threw it as far as he could. 'You are never coming back,' he said. The people knew then that they were free of it." - as told to Pamela Whitaker by Chief James Wallas


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