First Nations People have capitalized on Art and Design intertwined with folklore and beliefs. Each artistic design represents a story passed down from generation to generation.
Northwest Native Art on the coast of British Columbia have had many names in the past, such as:
- Indigenous Peoples
- Indian Bands
But now the term is First Nations, which I find fitting and gives a stronger respect of the First Nations throughout North America. What makes it fitting, is that they are the very first Nation of People to occupy the beautiful lands filled with surrounding cedar trees over 400 years old and wild oceans teaming with marine life. The first immigrant to land on this coastline of British Columbia was Captain Vancouver, who had first thought he had discovered the middle east. But, to his amazement he was greeted by the Haida People.
The First Nations People are occupied by a long selection of historical people from the Hadia to the Skawahlook Nations. There are approximately 300 proud Nation groups with creative symbolic art expressing the heart of their culture.
The original Haida Nation who greeted Captain Vancouver were close to elimination due to European settlers who brought their chicken pox and other diseases along with them. But a few of the Haida Tribe did survive, leaving beautiful artifacts, culture and spiritual meaning.
Take a leisure hike with breathtaking landscapes, sandy beaches, temperate rain forest, caves, waterfalls and cliff side mountains, you can hear the whispering sound of the Haida Spirits drifting through the thick cedar forest.
The First Nations in North America were extremely resourceful, using what they had around them without any waste. Deer hides were crafted into beautiful clothing covered in ordainment beads.
Imagine being part of the Haida Tribe going after a Killer whale in a small cedar canoe hollowed out for approximately eight men. Sometimes they didn’t survive.
Their homes were made of cedar slabs and they had appointed artists handed down from generation to generation.
Each tribe have a great respect for their animal life, well knowingly, the spiritual fathers were reincarnated into the living animal species, such as an bald head eagle or the white Spirit bear (Ursus americanus kermodei) or moskgm'ol (white bear), as called by the Tsimshian Coastal First Nations.
Each animal species have a powerful spirit within all First Nations legends.
The most interesting one is the Thunder bird with a legendary story a long time ago, where a giant killer whale ate all the salmon in the ocean. The First Nation People on shore were starving, begging the killer whale to leave food for their people.
After many days of praying to the spirits, a great wind crashed across the sea with roars of thunder and bolts of lightning. The Chief of the tribe felt the presence of a great spirit and ask for help.
But the spirit asked,"What will you do for me?"
And with that the Chief promises respect and admiration. Suddenly appeared the great spirit of them all - The mighty Thunder bird with flashing lightening from its pointed talons and rolling thunder as it swept its mighty wings.
The mighty Thunder bird grab the Killer Whale by its talons, carrying it off towards the rolling hills, where it dropped the enormous beast, immediately turning into a great mountain that you can see today.
To this day the artistic cultural carvers keep their word of respect to the mighty Thunder bird by
showing off the great spiritual Thunder bird by means of their expressive art.
In today's world we can learn from the First Nations heritages by respecting the rightful use of our species of animals and to use the resources in respect of mother earth.
Respecting our fishing and hunting privileges is only becoming a part of the ecological cycle. Our great fortune of being able to have food on the table should be to better our resources and to improve the embitterment of mankind. Enjoy the cultural history and keep it for our children's children and our grandchildren.
Knowledge and understanding of our resources will mean a brighter stronger future to co-exist with our animals species instead of our destroying nature.
Northwest Art is bringing a new life and spirit, providing historical riches to our heritages of mankind. Art and Design is expressed as an individual brand of that person - therefore Northwest Art is now expressed by all artists. It doesn't mean they have to be First Nations People to showcase aboriginal art.
It's a new world with new ideas - join me.