|Dimensions||6 × 6 × 20 in|
Nytom sometimes finds himself challenged with situations and not sure what direction he should turn or what action to take. There is a comfort, however, in knowing that his ancestors guide his actions and, like the wolves in this design, whisper to him and offer advice. All one has to do is listen.
First Nations of the NW Coast believe that killer whales and wolves are their brothers. Like wolves on land, killer whales hunt in packs and all share in the food, starting with the alpha male and female. Families composed songs and made regalia to depict the transformation of wolves into killer whales. In a marriage ceremony between two high-ranking clans from coastal tribes, singers of the groom’s family escort the bride from one side of the house to the family of the groom on the opposite side by surrounding her with dancers. The men mount a wooden fin on their backs to represent the whale, and wear a wolf’s skin on their shoulders to hide their identity. The dancers crawl alongside her like wolves and then transform, breaching like killer whales with the changing beat of the drum.
The three entities in this design portray the power emanating from a coastal drumming circle. When we are drumming, the circle is in unison. It is like the Thunderbird, enveloping us all as one. It is beautiful feeling that resonates through every fiber of our being, and a collective experience that is truly sacred.
The Makah have been great whale hunters, and highly skilled at traveling a dangerous ocean in large dugout canoes. This design honors traditional oral history about the Thunderbird hunting the Whale. The Makah Nation is the only tribe in the continental United States for whom whaling is an original treaty right.
People on the coast spent the spring, summer and fall gathering sustenance for the long harsh winters. The winter was for singing and dancing. The people gathered in their longhouses and related to one another by remembering and honoring their ancestors and sharing a genealogical relationship with the people of other houses. By naming the house posts, the people remembered their ancestors who were direct descendants of the house that had passed on before.The wolves in the design represent the Warrior Society among some of the coastal First Nations.