Henry Carry-On and the Spirits
On February 26th 1968, Henry Carry-On was hunting in the woods and came upon a white moose. The moose raised its head and stared at him. The fur was so bright it was almost like each strand of hair was illuminated from within. He put down his rifle and went home. He prayed. He went to church the next Sunday with his wife, Edith.
8 years later, Henry’s daughter Paula dreamed of a car accident on the highway. She was the most gifted in the family and it was not out of the ordinary for her to dream of things that eventually happened when she was awake. She didn’t read the newspapers for weeks. She had a bad feeling that made her skin crawl. She eventually stopped thinking about it after several months.
5 years went by and Henry’s oldest daughter, Catherine, gave birth to his second grandchild on December 25th. The nurses wanted to name her, Noelle or Holly. The babies’ skin was so white it looked like chalk. When Henry saw her for the first time, he thought to himself, she looks like a spirit. He never told his oldest daughter that.
9 years, 4 months and thirteen days from this thought, the second grandchild spotted a white crow in her front yard. No one believed her and they said it was probably a seagull. The second grandchild didn’t bother arguing that she was right. A week from the initial sighting, the white crow landed on her window sill. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that even its beak was white.
3 years later, Henry saw an owl from his living room window. It was around 1 pm in the afternoon. The owl sat on a branch and stared Henry in the eye. Henry went to see Julie, a local traditional woman on the reserve. She told Henry that the owl is the messenger between the living and the spirit world. She said to see an owl in the daytime was very unusual and symbolized death. Henry went home and prayed.
12 days after Henry saw the owl, he was driving from the reserve into town. He fell asleep at the wheel and his truck ran off the road. He died.
17 years had passed since Paula first dreamed of the car accident. When she heard how her father died, she drank herself into a stupor. She saw a counsellor for two years following his death. She did not tell her family about her dream or about the counsellor.
4 months after his funeral, the second grandchild had a dream of her grandfather, Henry. In the dream, she started crying and told him how much she missed him. Henry picked her up in his arms and told her not to worry. The second grandchild looked down from her grandfather’s arms and saw that she was in the air, far above the old house where Henry and Edith raised all of their children together. When the second grandchild woke up, she realized that she had fallen off the bed and was lying on the carpet floor. It was still night-time.
As she looked up at the ceiling of her bedroom, she thought about how safe she felt. She climbed back into bed and fell asleep. The next dream she had was about herself only she was much older; She was walking along a dirt road to a house that she could not yet see. She knew that house would one day be her home. That would be the place that she would die, she would be surrounded by all of her grandchildren. She would feel loved.
This artist was shown to me at work today, her name is Marianne Nicolson. She's a First Nations artist, and I think (as you will read in her bio if you click the link) "PHD candidate" means that she's working at getting her PHD at UVIC in Linguistics and Anthropology. She created this cliff painting in her home territory. Cliff paintings were common in my territory as well, but they often get destroyed due to weather oriented activities or sometimes even vandalism. My uncle once said that sometimes people come in and literally chip out the rock with the cliff painting on it and sell it to art dealers. Which is super lame, but I guess that means that nations should work at developing some form of legal policy to prevent jerks doing things like that.
Posted by Tshilqot'in at 5:26 PM