UPDATE: THE RITE WAS PERFORMED [scroll down for photos of broken shield]
First Nations Chief to Perform Rare Shaming Rite Against Harper Government
FEBRUARY 10, 2013 via Facebook
“To be shamed was one of the worst things that could happen to you,” Cranmer said, adding: “What Beau Dick is doing is more symbolic than anything.”
A traditional Kwakwaka’wakw ceremony that has not been performed for decades will take place Sunday on the legislature lawn as a symbolic shaming of the federal government.
A copper — a metal plaque traditionally used to measure the status, wealth and power of Kwakwaka’wakw chiefs — will be broken by hereditary Chief Beau Dick, who has walked from Quatsino, near Port Hardy, with family members and supporters. “The copper is a symbol of justice, truth and balance, and to break one is a threat, a challenge and can be an insult,” Dick said. “If you break copper on someone and shame them, there should be an apology.”
Dick is under no illusions that the federal government will change course because of the ceremony, but he hopes it will prompt people to start thinking about the need to protect the environment and stop what the “cultural genocide” against First Nations.
Dick said. “I think the federal government have shamed themselves, and this is a response.” Dick is being supported by Idle No More organizers, who have orchestrated demonstrations, events and blockades across Canada as a response to the federal government’s omnibus budget bills, which are seen to be gutting environmental protections and trampling treaty rights.The Idle No More movement is helping people connect the dots about issues such as corrupt corporate values and disappearing salmon stocks, Dick said. “I want change. I want everyone to have equal rights and be able to live harmoniously,” she said. “Most of all, I want a future for our children. What we are leaving them is very minimal.”
Coppers play an important role in Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies, but copper cutting stopped in the 1950s, said ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer.
“Our people were using coppers to fight each other,” he said.
Cutting copper was done if someone had been insulted. If that person could not cut a bigger piece of copper with a similar value, they were shamed. “To be shamed was one of the worst things that could happen to you,” Cranmer said, adding: “What Beau Dick is doing is more symbolic than anything.”
VIDEO OF THE CEREMONY:
READ MORE: Breaking Tináa, Breaking Copper Shields, and Bringing Shame in Raven’s Bioregion
THE WALK BEHIND THE COPPER CUTTING CEREMONY
[On February 2nd Hereditary Chief and his family embarked on a journey to Victoria Legislature arriving on Sunday the 10th for the copper cutting ceremony.] CLICK HERE FOR VIDEOS.
ABOUT CHIEF BEAU DICK
From Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery:
“Beau Dick was Born on November 23, 1955 on Village Island, Kingcome Inlet, B.C.. Beau is a respected Kwakwaka’wakw chief and one of the most accomplished and talented traditional carvers and artists on the West Coast. Actively engaged in all aspects of Kwakwaka’wakw culture, he is highly regarded as a teacher and mentor. Beau has concentrated on studying and reviving the traditions of carving, dance and story telling, Beau’s many works include: masks, bowls, rattles, drums, original paintings and limited edition prints. He began carving at a very early age, studying under his father, Francis and his grandfather James Dick working with Tony Hunt, Henry Hunt, Bill Reid, Doug Cranmer and Robert Davidson. His many important pieces are in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Heard Museum (Phoenix), Burke Museum (Seattle) , B.C. Provincial Museum as well as in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.”
Click here for A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT BEAU DICK.