EXHIBITION:Preston Singletary: Solo Exhibition
A retelling of the Tlingit origin story of killer whale:
The tale begins with a young warrior, Natsilané, who is destined to become Chief due to his skills, intelligence and generally pleasant demeanor. His brothers are extremely jealous of this and plot to depose him. The brothers take Natsilané out to fish in the sea, taking him further away from the shore than they have ever been before. As he becomes concerned, the brothers throw Natsilané overboard and row away.
As Natsilané is beginning to drown, he is found and rescued by Sea Otter, who floats him to a large island saying it is too far back to the mainland for Sea Otter to help him back. Instead, he promises to look after Natsilané and shows him the best hunting and fishing grounds. Once Natsilané is settled on his new island, alone, Sea Otter confers one last gift to him, a pouch of seeds, and instructs Natsilané to sow them. Natsilané does so, and over the years the seeds grow into a bewildering array of different types of trees, all of which are now native in the Pacific Northwest. Natsilané uses wood from the trees to carve tools and a boat.
In appreciation of Sea Otter, Natsilané then tries to carve a new totem. He tries all the trees, but settles on using a large yellow cedar tree and carves a huge fish from it, and leaves it on the shore for Sea Otter to find. The next morning when Natsilané goes down to the shore, the fish carving is gone and in the bay is swimming Blackfish, the first killer whale. With a boat and supplies, Natsilané travels back to his home, guided by Blackfish. When he arrives, he finds his brothers out fishing again, squabbling. He orders Blackfish to destroy their boat and drown his brothers, which it does immediately. When it returns, Natsilané orders that from this day forward it must never harm a human again, and that when it finds a human in trouble at sea it must help him. He then sends the whale off to sea. Natsilané returns to his village, which had been terrorized by his brothers, and becomes Chief.