Francis Dick

(excerpt from Interview with Shelby Richardson 4 August, 2011)

I was having a conversation with my dad. He was talking about, to me about, this lake up in Kingcome and this lake had a name, Kank’ulahukw, is the name of this lake, and it’s got moving islands on it. It’s got these big patches of grass, they are huge, like half the size of the living room, you know some of them the size of the table, and they just, like, float around on the lake. But you have to know where you’re going. It’s, like, a two-hour drive on this logging truck like to find this, like. I went to look for this lake, nobody really knew where Kank’ulahukw was; nobody ever talked about it. I heard it from my father; my father is a historian, everything that he knows is passed down to me. It’s that oral history, right? […]

The first lake we found was Kank’ulahukw, and sure enough, it was very cool. And I got out—there was about seven of us and it was just amazing. Like, I just sat there and there were, like, exactly like my dad said, there were these moving islands…. There were these moving islands, and there is a potlatch that happened hundreds of hundreds of years ago—like my people are really amazing with theatrics within the potlatch system—but during this potlatch this family created [a] big loon, wooden loon, and it would go under water and come up and come up and they would—a man, a couple men, could get in there and they could make this loon go under [the water]. Anyways, the mechanics got all messed up, and the men drowned in the bottom of the lake. And so I decided that I was going to paint the lake. How am I going to paint the lake? […] How am I going to paint moving islands? Right? But anyways, I had a loon that was diving under, and I told my story about going up to the lake, and I told the story about the men drowning. I know it’s the saddest thing, but how amazing it was that there were people… I don’t want to say ‘committed’ because it wasn’t something you were committed to, you just were, you were this nation and what you did was you expressed your spirit, your ‘’nalakw,’ your connection through these potlatches, and in these potlatches you had these masks for, well, they tell stories, dances, and songs. And so I talked about that… in my paintings.

[Dick in interview, August 4, 2011].