Greenway Narratives

 

a Coast Salish welcome figure with the arms downWelcome gesture: “Come in”

 

Since time immemorial, Coast Salish traditions have honoured wooden carved house post figures. In earlier times, house posts represented mythical creatures associated with family history including magical privileges of the family, notable ancestors or events that displayed ancestors' spirit powers. They faced into the large winter houses and sometimes outside declaiming the long history, wealth and high status of the family.

Margaret August’s contemporary version of a welcome figure with the arms down indicates a marker to welcome people to these territories and conveys the message “come in.”

 


a Coast Salish welcome figure with the arms upWelcome gesture: “Thank you” after feasting

 

Coast Salish artists did not carve tall wooden poles, known as totem poles, until the early 20th century. In earlier times, interior house posts were sometimes carved with human figures and other "spirit helpers" or abstract images referring to the spirit power belonging to the people living in the house. These were different from crests, figures of birds, sea creatures and other animals carved on totem poles from the more northern northwest villages.

There are many different ways that traditional Coast Salish house posts are represented. This banner with “arms up” depicts a gratitude welcome gesture after feasting. Feasting traditions happen ceremonially for purposes such as naming, whenever there is important business to tend to, and when it is necessary to conduct and to witness transactions. Food was and still remains symbolic of wealth to Coast Salish People.


a contemporary Coast Salish spindle whorl design“Reaching Greater Heights”

 

This is a contemporary Coast Salish Spindle Whorl design. Spindle whorls are typically used by Coast Salish female and Two-Spirit weavers to spin animal hair into wool for textiles. The types of wool usually came from what used to be referred to as the Salish Woolly dog (since colonization the Woolly dog has become extinct) or goat hair.

This symmetrical eagle design symbolizes the message to encourage you to emerge out of your comfort zone as the eagle’s spiritual meaning for us humans is of power and beauty.  Eagles are sacred to our cultures as Indigenous People; they arrive at times when people need spiritual protection or guidance on their path. Eagles are also considered to be closest to the “spirit world” due to their ability to fly higher than all other birds. Therefore, eagle reminds us to feel the freedom, soar above challenges and let ourselves be illuminated by its powerful wisdom.


a contemporary Coast Salish spindle whorl design“Salish Medicine”

 

This is a contemporary Coast Salish spindle whorl design. Traditionally, the art displayed on spindle whorls was said to give the weaver a “trance-like” experience. The designs on these sacred heirlooms were said to give the wool spinner specific kinds of spiritual experiences for the intended purpose of healing, transformation and protection.

More about this contemporary version:

This design uses Coast Salish elements in a symmetrical pattern, for the intended purpose of giving the viewer a “spiritual awakening.” This type of experience is a subjective one but one that encompasses an infinite sense of truth and reality.