Nisga’a Hobiyee 2013

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The Nisga’a chief wear tradition clothing called ‘regalia’. The regalia is designed to make the movements of the chief more noticeable and shows how important their actions are.

Greetings from Northern British Columbia,

This past weekend our home in The Nass Valley  held  a special event , Nisga’a Hobiyee  is the celebration that marks the start of the Harvest season or New Year  2013.  Our Swiss friends Rolf & Silvia came to visit and  be part of this celebration. There where many different visitors enjoying the feasting, music and dance. Many  came from other communities bring their own dance groups and music. The thing that attracted my eyes is the colourful costoms with the wild animal’s  fur and skin. The history show of the volcanic eruption on the Nass 300 years ago. The rhythm of the Nisga’a instrument made me feel that I want to dance with them. This is definitely one of the most colorful and historic traditional events left in Canada.

DSC_0886Amhalayt (Frontlet Headdress)

The amhalayt is a head covering worn by the sim’oogit (Chief) The amhalayt shows the chief’s place in both the spirit world and the physical world. When a carver made an amhalayt he measured the sim’oogit’s face so that it would fit perfectly.

An amhalayt is carved out of maple, usually with a human face, or the face of a bird or an animal. The carving showed a spirit guide of the sim’oogit’s wilp. The amhalayt is usually inlaid with abalone and copper. A thick, wide band of cedar bark, reddened with ochre to show sacredness, held the amhalayt in place.

Skin and fur: Bear skin robes was the only Nisga’a with the hereditary right to wear

a robe made from the fur of a silver – tipped grizzly.

 Costume presented Nisga’a society with four tribes: Raven, Killer Whale, Wolf and Eagle

Ayukws

Ayukws is a Nisga’a word. Very often people use the English word ‘Crest’ instead of ayukws. The crests of each pdeek (A very large family) give Nisga’a a simple way of thinking and talking about being a member of their pdeek. By saying, “I am a wolf,” or “I am an Eagle,” a Nisga’a is saying something important about himself and his relationship not only to other Nisga’a but to all other First Nations people.

DSC_0939Volcanic in Nass Valley 300 years ago

When the volcano first began to erupt it was only smoke like burning house. The lava then began to slide down the mountain side slowly. A poisonous gas drifted down ahead of the Lava. As soon as the people smelled this gas they began to suffocate from this gas and their bodies grew stiff.

Hat hand made from Cedar bark.
Hat hand made from Cedar bark.

Cedar Hat  Made from Cedar wood. I am pretty much like to get one of this neat craft hat but after I found out that it is not easy to made each hat. The bark was stripped from standing trees, in the spring, just after the sap started to run. A horizontal cut was made near the bottom of the tree. The bark was then pulled out and up. Long strips, sometimes as much as a third of a meter wide, were pulled off the largest trees. And do you know?  Nisga’a were careful not to take so much of the bark that the tree might die. Besides, The strips of cedar were taken off the east side of the tree early in the morning, so that the sun could help to heal the trees.

 

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Photography by Luksana
Reference:  Time before Memory, Nisga’s language and culture department, School district no. 92 (Nisga’a)

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