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The U'mista Collections

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Dog Mask of Johhny Drabble

Dog Mask of Johhny Drabble

‘Wat̕si or Dog

The dog is a very important animal to the Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw. For thousands of years we have owned and prized them for their loyalty and companionship. There were two types of dogs, one being those kept for pets and assistance in work and some trained to scare mountain goats closer to their hunting master: also a special white breed that was raised for its soft white fur that was mixed with mountain goat wool and woven into robes for nobility.

In the Red-Cedar-Bark-Ceremonies the dog played an important role. It is said that the Dog-Dance was one of the first dances the Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw ever performed. This form of the dance is called Awasalał and is associated with origin stories involving ancestors who owned and were protected by a supernatural dog.

Amongst the Dzawada’enuxw of Kingcome Inlet there is an ancient dance honoring one of the four great supernatural treasures of Kawadilikala. This ceremony is called the ‘Walas ‘Wat̕si or "Great Dog Dance from Above". This is one of the oldest dance societies of the Kingcome Inlet people.

There is also a mountain goat hunting dog that accompanies Mountain Goat Hunter Dancers as they reenact their stories of hunting goats. The dancer slowly moves about the floor with his loyal companion at his side as he searches for the prized mountain goat.

These ceremonies imitate the crawling of dogs and a mask with ears positioned forward, a shorter rounded snout with flared nostrils, and often a protruding tongue that distinguishes them from wolf masks.

The Dog mask in the collection is recorded as belonging to: John Drabble UCC-80.01.132

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