June 19, 2009

Pacific Voices -- Valued Objects: Northwest Coast Wolf Headdress

Posted by: Nicole Robert

George David is an internationally known Northwest Coast Native artist who participated in the development of the Burke Museum exhibit Pacific Voices, as well as the content of the accompanying book. The book, Pacific Voices: Keeping our Cultures Alive, is a collection of cultural objects with personal significance to members of the communities of the Pacific.

George David chose the wolf headdress. Pictured above is one example, from the Burke’s Ethnology Collection.

“The wolf headdress represents who we are. Our winter ceremony is a wolf ceremony called Tlookwana. That identifies my people, meaning not just the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe, but my family. You might hear other people say, ‘We are Raven, we are Eagle, we are Killer Whale clan.’ Me, I’m Tlookwana, that’s the house I come from. It’s not just a family crest, it’s who we are. It’s our power, our identity with nature and everything that’s around us. The wolf is our closest brother. We have songs that call the wolves down from the hills—not just physically, but their spiritual presence. When we sing those songs, the wolves come. They are with us, whether we’re here in Seattle or in our homeland on the west coast of Vancouver Island.”
-- George David

This text is excerpted from Chapter 16 of Pacific Voices: Keeping our Cultures Alive.