Monday, October 28, 2013

Work in the Jamestown "House of Myths"

We continue our visit to the "House of Myths" or Carving Shed at the center of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe in Blyn, WA. Shown below is the work on two poles, one new and the other a repair and repainting project.
In a 2012 interview with Jeff Chew of the Peninsula Daily News, Master Carver Dale Faulstich said he and his crew have carved at least 50 poles there. He has worked in the carving shed since the tribe first contracted him when it built 7 Cedars Casino, and it is the totem pole at the entrance to the casino that is being refurbished in the shed today.

Asked why the shed is called the “House of Myths,” Faulstich said, “Well, that's what we do here: We make myths.”

In his book, Totem Poles of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe, Faulstich identifies the figures in this pole. At the bottom of the pole is the figure of a whale (below), head down as if to dive.
Below is the view from the head of the whale at the base of the pole to the top.
This small human face (below and in photo #1 above) just above the whale's head represents the "blow-hole" of the whale.
The whale hunter sits above the whale's body, his arms and legs wrapped around the dorsal fin (the long black piece).
The face of the hunter is shown below.
Above the hunter is the Sun (photo below). "In old Salish myth the 'Chief Above,' or 'Old One' created the Sun to be father to all people, as the Earth is their mother.... From Earth's flesh, mixed with her tears, Old One shaped clay figures, and Sun's warmth brought them to life. These were the first, the animal people. Last of the mud-balls shaped by Old One were human beings, the most helpless of all creatures."
Shown with his beak around the Sun's corona in the far right of the photo above and to the left of the area that Faulstich is painting in the photo below is the Raven, a cultural hero in many Northwest Coast Native legends..

"An incorrigible supernatural trickster, the Raven is able to transform himself into anything at any time. The Raven helped the people by putting the sun, moon, and stars into the sky, fish into sea, salmon into the rivers, and food onto the land."
Raven, Sun, Whale, and Hunter represent S'Klallam cultural history. The paddler, at the pole's top, commemorates the Tribe's participation in the annual "Paddle to Bella Bella," a contemporary canoe journey that encourages awareness and pride in tribal heritage.
This totem pole will return to its position in the central group of three poles in front of the 7 Cedars Casino on the Tribe's property.
Tomorrow we will look at the six other totem poles at the Casino.

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