Lost in the Fraser

Stan Greene

(excerpt from interview with Brian Thom May 1996)

This one here is “Lost in the Fraser.” This is one of my own designs. After I did the “Spindle Whorls” I was working with a company in Vancouver. They were people that..the public was like sucking up, here is a Salish artist finally and doing Salish work. And they were buying up my work pretty good all of the time. Then I wanted to do a square, rectangular picture, I says. All of the artists, they said “No, just stick to the spindle whorl design the people know you of your people [Salish].” I said “Well all of the other tribes do rectangle, they do any kind of picture they want to do.” They said no. So I went home. I had this one piece, and I brought it down to them and showed and explained to them what it was. They thought it was a strong design and a nice design and what it is the background is out in the Fraser River. The fish in the front here are the sturgeon. The man in the middle here holding on to the sturgeon with his hands forming the fins on the sturgeon. Is pushing himself out. There was a man that drowned in the Fraser River, and he lost his life. A lot of the people along the side of the river, the fishermen, a lot of them lost their lives. They had to learn to respect the river. If you didn’t respect the river then it takes your life. To ease the people’s minds, there’s a sturgeon that went up, if somebody got lost in the river, they were alright. But the sturgeon people went and they took them. They took them to the bottom of the river. The bottom of the river was a village there and he lived there then, that fisherman. And he was alright. That was the only way of easing the people’s minds that “all my sons drowned in the river” and … there’s a lot of stories like that, the animals taking the man to the other world where the people go and they die. But they say that when you die, we go to the other world and I’m going to be with my grandmother, my mother, my father. I’m going to be there with them when I leave this world. We will all be together. And so our life goes on, on and on again. It’s a part of the way of life, a part of belief.

[Greene in interview May 1996]