Thunderbird, Whale Canoe

Thunderbird, Whale Canoe
Maynard Johnny Jr.

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

I’ve always been weary of libraries and anthropologists books, especially in the early years like 1900- to probably as late as 88’ I’ve seen books where you know they say they have an artifact they found in the Cowichan territory or they would say in the Duncan area, [an] unknown artist, unknown tribe. Well it’s obvious its Coast Salish , you can see from on the design work its Coast Salish and if you found it in Duncan there’s a good chance its Coast Salish (haha) -and this is a book from I think made in 1974 or something so I mean as late as then they weren’t sure, who was what. So I think, for the most part, like I mean I’ve been told stories by elders and even as young as my Uncles who were in there fifties and sixties now. They were told stories from their father or their grandfather that happened all around this whole area from Comox to Seattle. Our people had traveled that far on canoes. My Uncle used to joke about it, he used say you know like, “I remember when, you know my son came up to me and he goes ‘hey dad you wanna go to Seattle?’ and then he’d sit there and whine about it saying ‘oh and then I gotta catch the ferry, then I gotta pay for the food, then I gotta go..” you know, Seattle find a place to stay blah blah blah”. And then he remembers our people did all this in canoes, lets go to Seattle “oh ok, lets get in the canoe and travel onto Seattle, no problem right and here we are whining about ferries and places to stay and things to eat, but they did this for a living, you know they had to do this. Its pretty neat to and people don’t realize that the Cowichan had traditional territories in Tsawwassen and Halalt had traditional territories in Cowichan, you know so we’re all different Coast Salish people but we also came into each others territory and we’d hunt and fish whatever we had to do. So books don’t really reflect that stuff but our elders do and its up to us to find a way to keep it going. You know prints, carving, you know a book. Now that we’re you know ‘modernized’ for lack of a better term we can write a book about, you know and tons of people have done books about their languages, they’ve done books about the stories of those who fell from the sky, it’s a great book that kind of reflects how Cowichan people started.

[Johnny in Interview, 10 August, 2011]