Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC)

Sturgeon Mask Dance (Naxaxalhts'i 'Sonny' McHalsie)

Sturgeon Mask Dance (Naxaxalhts\'i "Sonny" McHalsie)

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[Naxaxalhts’i ‘Sonny’ McHalsie]: We did have a lot of masks around here. Like right now the only masks that survived is the sxwóyxwey. That’s why it’s so sacred to us, is because that’s the one that survived. But we did have more here, because the late Peter Dennis Peters, He said that what had happened was the missionaries, the priests, asked everyone to bring their masks up to Yale. And they didn’t know what was going to happen to them. They got up to Yale, and the priests started a bonfire. And they burned all of the masks. Right, so the only mask that survived then was the sxwóyxwey. All the rest of them were burned. And so when I look at some of these groups now, like the spindle whorl dancers that are coming up with these different stories with masks, I really think that we need to do that; we need to bring that part back. You know, because when you look at all the different oral histories, the stories, like especially the stories about ancestors that were transformed, I’m quite certain that in the past we probably had a dance that went along with it. Because I know like Ralph George and Les Fraser, the story that [scho-ham-oway] talked earlier about the man and woman that were transformed into sturgeon, they had a dance that was like a sturgeon dance, where they had a mask that looked like a sturgeon, they had regalia that looked like the back of a sturgeon, and when they did the dance they actually did it down by the water. And when they were singing their song, they actually walked into the water and walked back out of the water, because that was part of the dance. And that was the sturgeon mask dance.