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Watchmen - Unframed 17x22

Artist: Andy Everson

Some say the K'omoks live in the "Land of Plenty." In fact, the very word "Comox" is derived from the Kwak'wala word for wealth. At all times during our history, we have been defensive of our territory. That is not to say that we didn't allow others into our region. Instead, we had a mutual respect that mandated that others ask permission to enter our borders. We shared in the abundance that the land and the sea had to offer with almost any tribe--from near or far.

Since time immemorial, though, there have been times when this respect has been breached. Occasionally, this has been brought about by times of desperation and times of hunger. Other tribes have seen the bounty of our territory and desired to control a piece of it. It is not surprising that my people were somewhat eager to defend their village and its surrounding region. One has to understand, though, that warfare in the Pacific Northwest typically didn't take place in the open field of battle. Instead, it primarily consisted of late-night raids in which the attackers would paddle their canoes close to the village and sneak into the bighouses while everyone slept. In many instances, massacres were the result.

On the hill above our village in Comox Harbour, we had a defensive palisade into which my people could retreat if given enough warning. My mother has always told me that far across the Comox Peninsula was a lookout site at Cape Lazo. Here, a small group of stalwart watchmen would look north and south watching for the telltale shape of approaching canoes. If danger was imminent, a runner would be sent along the 8 km trail to the main village to warn the K'omoks people. It is likely that these watchmen saved my people from devastation on a number of occasions.

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