Potlatch Gathering

Limited Edition Serigraph
  |   $100


Dennis Allen

A long time ago, the people from Victoria Island sent word to the chief of Makah that they were going to have a huge Indian potlatch. It was to be a very special occasion and would you please come. The chief replied “I am terribly sorry and very honored, but I can’t go. I would like to send my daughter, the princess, in my place. I’ll send her with blankets, baskets and everything that represents the Makah people to your very special potlatch.”

So, a group of warriors took the princess to the potlatch with all the wonderful gifts to exchange, as it was part of the Indian tradition. It really showed their friendship. The potlatch was terrific! It lasted over a week. Finally, it was time for the Makah princess to return home. She said her farewells and left with the warriors.

On the journey home, the fog set in. It was so thick that you could only see a few feet in any direction. There was only silence with no wind to give the warriors a sense of direction. They were lost. They traveled and traveled. Soon the princess started to cry.

A loon swam up to the canoe and asked “What’s the matter princess? Why are you crying?” The princess said “We’re lost and we’re trying to get back to Makah village.” “Well, I know the way. I’ll take you there,” said the loon.

The warriors followed the loon. Sure enough, the loon took them right into the Makah village. The princess was very happy. The loon being very humble wanted to leave, but the princess wouldn’t let him, at least not yet. “My father is the chief.” She said. “We would like to repay you.”

There was a huge pow-wow because the chief and everyone was so happy for the safe return of his daughter and the warriors. They went to the mountains to gather the color of the moss and the salmon berries. They replaced the loon’s eyes with the berries because of their nice red color. Then, they coated him with the color of the moss and changed all his features.

The loon was very happy. No longer was he plain old gray looking bird. He stood up in the water and flapped his wings to show off his wings to show off his beautiful colors.

The Indian princess took off her necklace made of Clisquits (Indian money) and threw it into the water. It somehow wrapped around the loon’s neck and broke off at both ends and scattered across his back. He stood up and again flapping his wings showing off his beauty. “Look at me!” “Look at me!” “Look at me!”

That is the chocker you see today. The white spots are from the Clisquits. So ends the story of the traveling loon and the princess from Makah.

– Story shared by Dennis Allen, transcribed by his granddaughter Andrea Wilbur-Sigo