The frontlet and robe of trailing
ermines is worn by the Chief in a special dance performed
during the second half of the potlatch called the
la. This dance symbolizes peace.
The rights to this dance were originally acquired in the 19th century from the northern tribes of the Tlingit, Tsimshian, Heiltsuk and the Haida.
Dance and Regalia:
The Peace Dance regalia includes a carved frontlet headdress or pak
iwe' a button blanket, apron, leggings and raven rattle. Most Kwakwa
'wakw Chiefs use a button blanket with this outfit, but a few families having the privilege to do so, will wear a chilkat blanket which is acquired through marriage to people from the northern nations.
The headdress consists of a basketry crown covered
with a band of bird skin with the downy side exposed.
Rising from the crown is a surround of vertical sea
lion whiskers or strips of whale baleen. The focal
part of the headdress is a carved wooden plaque or
the frontlet, set upon the forehead of the dancer.
It is sometimes inlaid with abalone, mirrors or coppers;
featured in the carving is a human or animal ancestor
of the owner. Attached to the crown and trailing a
metre or more down the dancer's back is a cloth panel
to which rows of white ermine pelts are attached.
The Kwa„wala name for this peace dance headdress is
In the t‡a'sa
la, the dancers are not necessarily
Chiefs. The first dancer is usually the Chief's younger
son (if the oldest is a hamat'sa) wearing a ceremonial
blanket, with his feet flat, his knees slightly bent,
one hand on his hip and the other extended to his
side holding a raven rattle. As he dances lightly
in unison with the drumbeat, he cocks his head from
side to side releasing eagle down which has been placed
within the circle of sea lion whiskers on top of the
headdress. The eagle down wafts out over the assembled
guests as a symbol of peace and welcome.
la song of U'dzistalis, 'Na
is Chief Christopher Alfred.
You are all going to watch the house of our chief, his name speaks of his greatness and the wonderful things he has done.
Everyone will now see the prince of our chief, he is the next in line to be a chief, his name refers to this high standing and he is on the other side.
All the tribes will now watch the great family of our chief, they are noble because of him and his wonderful name saying, he was born to do the different types of dances.
This mask was returned to the U'mista Cultural Centre from the National Museum of the American Indian in 1993.
Sam Charlie owned this mask. His daughter, Mary Beans requested the mask be transferred from the Nuyumbalees Society to the U'mista Cultural Society in 1979.