This Five Finned Whale, of myth and legend, is carved in Sooke Sandstone.

Overall dimensions are 12” x 10” x 5”.

The sculpture has a home in Rivers Inlet, British Columbia.


 

Legend of the Five Finned Whale

The legend of the Five Finned Whale tells the origin of the people known today as the Owikeeno, the Wuikinuxv First Nations. The Wuikinuxw have lived in the Central Coast region of British Columbia for over ten thousand years. Their traditional territory lies about 300 miles northwest of Vancouver. It extends through the coastal waters around Calvert Island at the westerly limit, and beyond Owikeeno Lake to the east. The Owikeeno community is located along the Waanukv River, which connects Owikeeno Lake to the head of Rivers Inlet on the coast.

According to the legend, four whales were seal hunting in Wa'aukvaxsiwa, the west coast inlet of that area.  A significant landslide occurred during the time that the four whales were hunting. The landslide created a land mass that dammed the waters of the inlet, forming today’s Owikeeno Lake. One of the whales was trapped by the landslide and the dead whale’s body formed an island named Ka'tit, known today as Smokehouse Island, home to the Owikeeno people.

Can you allow yourself to imagine the setting of the coastal inlet many thousand years ago? Can you picture four sibling whales swimming the inlet, searching for seals, and one of the whales merging with the land to shape an island home for the Owikeeno people?

The Five Finned Whale immortalizes this event. This legendary whale has five fins. One fin is the dorsal fin of the whale. The four additional fins embody four brothers, the sons of Nu'waqawa who is known also as Newakawa.  Newakawa is the parent of all the Owikeeno people. Today, the four houses of the family of Newakawa are still located on Smokehouse Island.

Each of the four brothers, sons of Newakawa, holds a name that signifies an important quality, valued by the Owikeeno people. The first brother is Ha'ilamas, the healer, the one who makes all right.  The second brother is Nu'umaskas, the wise old man, keeper of knowledge. The third brother is Ugva'las, the trickster, the keeper of transformation. And the fourth brother is Zixsiwalis, the keeper of protocol, of law.

 

Generations of artists have characterized the Five Finned Whale in many and various creations, testifying to the legend of the origin of the Owikeeno people, the family of Newakawa.  

This description is written for this website with the guidance and permission of Xvusemda's, Ted Walkus, hereditary chief of the Owikeeno, the Wuikinuxv First Nations.

 

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