Farewell Dance with the Kwakwa-ka-wakw

by on Monday, 21 November 2011 6523 hits Comments
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U'mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay, Vancouver Island

The U'mista Cultural Centre, founded in 1980 was a project to house 'potlatch' artefacts which had been seized by the government during an earlier period of cultural repression. The return of the potlatch artefacts provided the name of the centre - U'mista's or 'the return of something important', and provided the motivation behind the creation of a physical facility and Tsalala dance troupe. U'mista's operations include the running of a modern museum and cultural education facility, an extensive art gallery and gift shop, group tours, and presentations by dance troupes.

The group spent a whole day on this beautiful island at the mouth of U’mista centre, where they saw the remains of a Canadian Residential School, a legacy from the days when the Canadian government was attempting to educate and conform the Indians to European cultural standards, religion and way of life After a few of the students took a ceremonial dip in the freezing saltwater we were taken to the ceremonial house of gathering where the students observed and shared traditional dance performances with the Tasala dance troupe. This process learnt about their respective cultures...but also to further know themselves through the eyes of the other.

For readers in China:

Filmed by C. Phiv and D. Chen, edited by C. Phiv, subtitled by Adrienne Chu

"U’mista, the final stop on our journey was also the one that left me the most lasting impression. As we arrived they happily performed a traditional dance to express welcome. During the performance, we saw lively, enthusiastic kids, unsparingly displaying outstanding postures and flexibility. I now truly understand the meaning of the totem poles standing between the city and the countryside – with the creation of an environment you demonstrate respect for culture; with respect for culture, you create an invisible unity, and from this united spirit, the Indigenous people will find the roots of their family."
Yabax Hayung (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Health and Nursing Sciences, Atayal Nation)


umista_improvised-dance

 

"I was very moved to find that every time a government representative or civil group talked to us they would start off by introducing which First Nations traditional tribal lands we were on. While the terms First Nation in Canada and Indigenous in Taiwan express similar things, and in both countries they recognize the precedence of the arrival of our peoples, in Taiwan when do you ever hear someone start off by introducing a story of the land and which Indigenous group used to live there?"
Yahu Kunaw (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Atayal Nation)

Photos by C. Phiv

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:33
Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)

Former Managing Editor of eRenlai.com

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