Originally from the K
w at River Inlet, this headdress refers to the story of the Na
awe', who were preparing for a hunting trip. Their father advised them that they should find a rocky, sloping place on which to camp overnight. The sons ignored the advice and stopped at a flat, grassy, meadow, where they slept. When they awoke the next morning, they found themselves stranded atop a tall pillar of rock, with no way of getting down. The youngest brother said," Let us tie our ropes together and I will stay here and hold one end while each of you climbs down." As the third brother reached the bottom safely, the youngest brother realized that he was stuck at the top. He curled up in his cedar bark tunic and fell asleep, waking when heard a noise. He poked a hole in his tunic and saw an ermine. The ermine said, "I know what you did to save your brothers and I will help you. Touch my paws with your hands and feet, then move down, exactly as I do, with your hind end held high." The young man did as he was told and soon joined his brothers at the foot of the rock pillar.
Dance and Regalia:
This is a forehead mask that incorporates an ermine (in the bird's mouth) and a sisiyut‡. The raven's lower jaw opens to reveal the carved ermine. The ermine is on a wire track inside the raven's mouth. The mask has wings (separate pieces) that sweep back from the head and a Sisiyut‡ placed at the raven's throat.
The headdress is rigged so that the ermine moves on a track in and out of the mouth of the raven. Underneath the raven is a sisiyut‡, representing strength. The absence of dyed red cedar bark indicates that the headdress is used in the t'‡a'sa
Raven song of T'sandigam Nage', Harry Mountain, Mama
You are a supernatural gift raven, supernatural you raven. They shall take great care of this treasure from the beginning, from the beginning you are from a supernatural place, you are supernatural.
They will cherish this gift from the very beginning; they will all paddle to go to your supernatural place; for your spiritual gift that is made for you,
You are spiritual.
The original owner of this mask was K'wamxudi of the Kwakwa
'wakw and believed to have been carved (at least in the style of) by Bob Harris. This headdress is from the Potlatch Collection, returned by the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization) in 1979. It was one of the treasures confiscated in 1922, as a result of the arrests under the law prohibiting the potlatch. It ended up at Canadian Museum of Canada and was returned to U'mista in 1979.