Take a look. This is N’ha-a-itk. Maybe you’ve heard of this creature from the time when all people and the earth and the creatures were one, through the lens of a little colonial linguistic derision … the Ogopogo of legend? I was across the lake from the N’ha-a-itk a couple days ago, in such glorious light that I had to stop. I wanted to call out to all the people in all the cars roaring past this old plantation to stop, that wherever they were going was of no consequence compared to this light here with the N’ha-a-itk, but they seemed pretty intent on driving on by, and what could I do? Get arrested for looking crazy? That saddened me. The day was joyous, and, I tell you, the light is turbulent here and rarely as amazing as this, turned orange by coming in immediately above the peaks just before a winter dusk. Legend’s the word for it. You can read about the Ogopogo critter in previous posts, here and here and here. And yesterday I told the story of how growing up in a valley in which the mountains were the sky taught me to read the rock. I tell you, this is the rock:
We’re looking at it here from the old North-South trail, that ran up this side of the lake for 10,000 years. You can lay a totem pole on its back and get it to stare up into the sky and it’s not going to look much different.
Except totem poles don’t have heads.
Actually, there are a group of N’ha-a-itks here. Those were the southern one. Here’s the main one, hunting at Rattlesnake Island, on Squally Point, already out of the sun. A couple kilometres makes a lot of difference here.
It is a nature of respect among the Syilx people that respect given is respect received. That’s what this land teaches. That’s what they learned. That’s what I learned. There are faces on the southern N’ha-a-itk’s snout here…
…that’s a kind of photography that is recorded in the mind, at the place and time at which it meets the earth. Place and time? They are the same thing when you think as the earth. Placing science at that intersection instead and looking for nonexistent archaic animals says a lot about science, a lot more about the people who would engage in such an enterprise, and even more about a culture that condones that degree of disrespect to indigenous people, to its own people and to the earth itself.
It’s hard to take such attitudes seriously, except they are so dangerous. When you are the mountain, you speak as the mountain and the mountain speaks as you. Anything else is a path to environmental death. The art in which that is handled is ethics. We either get this right or we are not human anymore.
Not human anymore? Challenging, I know, but I hope to explain what I mean in my next post.