“Cannibal Raven” alludes to the Hamatsa Dance Society bird masks of the Kwakwaka’wakw people; Crooked Beak, Huk-huk and Raven. Members of the Hamatsa Dance Society dance these three masks during the initiation ceremony of new Hamatsa Society members. This particular ceremony dramatizes the struggle of good and evil forces for the young initiate’s soul. The giant Hamatsa birds are the earthly representatives of Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwe’, the colossal cannibal spirit in the sky world. The enormous birds try to lure the young person into the dark realm, while the family and tribe work tirelessly to liberate the forces of evil from the young person’s soul.
When the initiation ceremony concludes (which can take several days), the forces of good, with any luck, have prevailed and the young initiate is ready to be a productive, positive contributing member to the Hamatsa society and the tribe.