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NAMXEYALIGUWE

During the great flood, the Creator told an ancestor of the 'Namgis to watch for a great sea monster who would keep him safe during the mayhem. As the rains fell and the waters began to rise, the ancestor stood near the shore waiting. Finally, Namxeyaliguwe surfaced, causing the waters to rise further - but he gently hovered by shore and allowed the man to climb onto his back. This man was bestowed with many gifts, including transformation into a salmon so he would have the ability to breathe under water. 

 

After the ancestor was returned to shore on the north eastern side of Vancouver Island at Nimpkish Lake, he was assisted by Thunderbird in building the first structure at what became the ancestral village of the ‘Namgis.

 

Namxeyaliguwe is said to be shaped like a giant halibut, and is so large a human looks like a speck of dust on his back. Namxeyaliguwe possesses “crystal” on his forehead where the third eye is located. Though crystal is not the direct translation for the word used by the Kwakwaka’wakw, the significance is that many legends a centered around the supernatural gifts one receives from this crystal, including the ability to fly, the ability to transform, and the ability to heal.

 

“After the Flood the former people were transformed into animals and stones. When the waters receded, the monster Nemkya’likyo* (= Only One) rose from the depths of the ocean. He looked like a huge halibut carrying a man on its narrow edge. He put him ashore at Qulkh and returned again to the deep.”

 

From Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America; A translation of Franz Boas 1895 Edition of Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Kuste Amerikas – Page 305

 

*Nemkya’likyo is commonly spelled Namxeyaliguwe today, though spellings vary.

SOURCES

Franz Boas Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America: A Translation of Franz Boas' 1895 Edition of Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Kuste Amerikas (2006)

Conversations with 'Namgis Chris Cook III