Protecting Mother

Protecting Mother
Maynard Johnny Jr.

(excerpt from interview with Shelby Richardson 10 August, 2011)

I mean for me all these images I’ve done have been a reflection of stories that have been told, a lot of them are old and like I say some of them are personal experiences. You know, like it’s kind of neat that like I did one Protecting Mother and there’s two wolves around a woman and the reason I did that is because my mom had two sons so the wolves represent me and my brother and the woman is my mother, so the Protecting Mother. On my mom’s side of the family, she’s Kwakwaka’wakw and my dad’s Salish, two complete different tribes. Two completely different cultures. Meanwhile there are some similarities and, but on my mom’s side you know, this is a Salish design on her side, one of her crests is a wolf so it’s kind of how I reflected that part of me, is from my mother’s side, even though I do a Salish style design. This is me and my brother protecting my mother so those are the kind of things I reflect in. So in terms of a place it’s not really related to but it’s related to my mother who is from a different culture, right? A different place. Around Cape Mudge, that’s where my mother’s from.

And it’s funny, I just learned a story, which I guess can be related to place if I ever come up with an image. A long, long time ago my Uncle told me this story that once basically, my great-great-great-great-great Grandfather, long before there had been contact happened, the people from Cape Mudge, where my mom is from, would come down to our territory, around this Island, around Chemainus and basically rape and pillage our villages. So finally my Grandfather who was great-great-great-great so far down right? Decided you know “I’m getting tired of this, these people coming and doing this to us, let’s stop this.” And he went around to different villages Lyackson, you know Pauquachin, and all those villages around that area and said, “Look, I’m getting tired of this. Let’s do something about it.” And people agreed. So they went and met these people coming down and they slaughtered them. And then they took, he took, he was, we didn’t have chiefs but we had, that’s the best word for it, was chief, so he was sort of ‘the chief,’ he took his oldest son to Cape Mudge and said “I don’t want to raise my axe to you anymore and to show you what I mean that I want to offer you my eldest son. Just to prove that I am willing to call a truce,” basically, right? (S:Yeah) and then the eldest son married the chief’s eldest daughter so I could be closely related, well not closely but related in someway, more than being my mom but more so the people up the valley as well. But that’s a story in time you know, not necessarily place, I mean there is a sense of place, of a certain place in the ocean but there’s stuff like that. So I don’t know, maybe I went somewhere that all this took place [and] that might be a place that reflects, you know, it would help me come up with the image, you know tell the story so.

[Johnny in Interview, 10 August, 2011]