Buk’wus is said to be a drown fisherman who swam to shore, and is one of the most fearsome spirits in the forest. Buk’wus is a reclusive ghost spirit who lives in an invisible house, deep in the forest. He is only three feet tall, is repulsive and ugly, and he survives on spirits – though cockles are his favorite food to feast on. Buk’wus is known to use a whistle to lure people into his vicinity. When he convinces them to share a meal with him, he serves them ghost food which traps them in the spirit world, eventually transforming them into another Buk’wus. Buk’wus is often depicted with cockle shells.
Buk'wus has been known to appear in the presence of those who are involved in self-sabotaging behavior, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or any means of harming others through the harm of oneself. In this way, Buk'wus can signify the overcoming of personal obstacles and challenges, and choosing the brighter path that is available.
Buk’wus can be identified by his human-like features and large hooked nose. He is often depicted with wild hair and cockle shells.
Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)
Campbell River Museum & Archives