stiqayu’ yexw hikw słukwalb (Wolf & the Full Moon)

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EXHIBITION:

June

stiqayu’ yexw hikw słukwalb (Wolf & the Full Moon)

“Wolf has often been described to me through the teachings of our people as a source from which we can learn a great deal of respect.  From Wolf we have learned to work together and have respect for those of rank and nobility.  Wolf has also been a keeper of justice within the old stories that continue today.  However, it is seen throughout the world I hope to pay respect to not just an “animal” but an ancestral leader through the art that I create in my life.”

The Moon is a recurring figure in my work and for good reason.  It has long been an important part of our mythology. Long ago the Moon was born from a star being father and a human mother who dared to venture into the sky world with her sister. The women came back longing for their families where the moon was raised as a child among the people known as dakwibaɬ (Changer/Transformer). There are many stories that put him as a central figure forever changing the world in his time. I am often taken by our mythology when I admire the moon rising in the twilight as night falls.

Origin of the Moon

In early mythological times the Puyallup people spoke of two sisters who marveled the stars in the sky world at night.  One day while they were in the forest collecting cedar bark they came upon an extraordinarily large cedar tree.  They noticed that the tree was so tall that it reached into the sky world.  The sisters talked about how they would both marry a star from the sky world.  The next day they went back to the cedar tree and began climbing and climbing until they reached the sky world.  Once there, the two stars they had marveled the most, the white star and the red one, confronted them.  The white star was the one the oldest sister had planned on marrying–though he appeared to be an aged man she was still in love with him.  The younger sister who had her eyes on the red star saw now that he was a healthy, young, and strong being.

After spending some time in the sky world the younger sister had discovered that she was with child.  The girls began to long for their home back in the village.  The work in the sky world was much more difficult than the work was at home.  They had to devise a plan since the cedar tree that provided them a way to the sky world had been cut down shortly after their arrival.  Since the sky world had its own forest, the girls decided to make rope from the bark.  After several days of work, the girls accomplished their feat and climbed down to the place they called home.

The child born of the red star and younger sister possessed supernatural powers.  He had the power to change things with his hands and with songs.  There are many stories about the man called dakwibaɬ (da-qwee-bal-th).  The translation of his name is the ‘Changer’ or ‘Transformer’.

dakwibaɬ went on to do great things for the people of Puget Sound, but he eventually began to miss his celestial origin, the Sky World. He made plans to find a wife before he returned to his home. After much searching, dakwibaɬ found a worthy wife and realized he had one last concern before he left for the Sky World.

“Who will carry on to watch over the people?” He remembered hearing long ago of how Wolf had taken care of man in the beginning. Wolf had decided to take it upon himself to befriend humans and teach them the uses of the cedar tree. The process of taking the bark and using it for clothing that shed the rain and the tree itself that provided for the canoes that later became the staple of travel for our people. He also went on to teach man to fish and hunt as well.

For this, dakwibaɬ, being half human, felt indebted to Wolf. After seeking out Wolf, dakwibaɬ asked him to carry on the guardianship of the people. Wolf proudly accepted this task. dakwibaɬ said, “I will shine bright in the night sky so you can see me and tell me of how my people are doing.” With this, dakwibaɬ turned to the sky and became what we know today as Moon. And so when the Moon shines full, Wolf sings to him to let him know what has taken place in the passing days.”