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Things ShowcaseOld N'amgis Burial Grounds, Alert Bay, BC

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minniev
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Old N'amgis Burial Grounds, Alert Bay, BC

Post by minniev » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:16 pm

The burial ground dates back to the 1800s, when native people were forced to adapt their burial practices and housing practices by moving further from the shore than they'd lived in the 14,000 years before that. They kept their tradition of raising memorial poles for the dead according to their own artistic custom. Each pole tells the symbolic story of the memorialized person and his/her family, by using figures of their crests and the special names they were awarded in their lifetimes. The stories typically read from the bottom upwards.

It is tradition to allow the poles to deteriorate and fall at their own rate, and efforts are not usually made to repair or repaint them, especially after the first couple of years. The poles are expected to return to the earth as did the person they memorialize. Scattered about are some small rock stones, some with names on them. The new pole in one of the images was added in 1995 when a new road was built that intersected land thought to be part of the burial ground in past times and their poles already gone; that pole is to memorialize all those who were buried beneath the road.

Some of the figures are clan figures such as Eagle, Raven, Bear, Killer-Whale. Some are mythological figures like Dzunuk̓wa (a kind of witch figure), Thunderbird (eagle with horns), Sea-Wolf. Some are both, like Raven, who is credited with having created the world and the people. The style in which they are rendered is called form-line and it's used in all Northwest art whether clothing, jewelry, painting, carving, whatever. Visitors cannot enter the cemetery but can view and photograph it from the road.
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cem (1 of 1)-5.jpg
For Those Beneath The Sreet
cem (1 of 1)-4.jpg
Old Ones
cem (1 of 1)-3.jpg
Ghosts in the Mist
cem (1 of 1).jpg
Ravens Discussing Their Creation of the World
cem (1 of 1)-2.jpg
Bear Mother At Rest
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Psjunkie
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Post by Psjunkie » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:39 am

Great history minniev, thanks for sharing with photos...

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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:31 pm

Great photo essay, each frame telling part of the story to the end. It was serendipitous that there was thin sun, overcast, and even fog as it all adds to the mood, somber but celebratory.
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Post by minniev » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:15 pm

Psjunkie wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:39 am
Great history minniev, thanks for sharing with photos...
Glad you enjoyed it!
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by minniev » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:17 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:31 pm
Great photo essay, each frame telling part of the story to the end. It was serendipitous that there was thin sun, overcast, and even fog as it all adds to the mood, somber but celebratory.
Thanks Chuck. The Northwest is a rare still-wild kind of place where we can actually interact with pieces of a civilization far older than most on earth.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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