- I first met Chief Ken Hall (Chaqweekash) 8 years ago. Chief Ken is the hereditary chief of the Eagle Clan of the Haisla First Nation. He and the Haisla people have had, and are continuing to have a profound impact on my life as a storyteller and I am extremely grateful.
Before we share one of Chief Ken Hall's stories with you, I want to pay respect and thanks to my ancestors, my family and the Haisla people, particularly Chief Ken Hall, his friendship, wisdom and commitment. Sitting for hours and listening to Chief Ken reminds me of the influence other storytellers have had on my life, and I am especially appreciative of you and your memories, old friends.
Most of the storytelling platforms used in the following didn’t even exist when I first met Ken, which is really not all that long ago. Telling stories, even those millennia old, is taking on a whole new dimension. This story and the way it is told, I believe, is an example of that. I hope it is also pays proper tribute to traditional storytelling forms.
The following is story about Sasquatch and the Snake. As with all good stories, however, I believe it is about much more than its main characters. Also, at least in one interpretation, it is particularly relevant to what is occurring in the Haisla community at the moment. You will have to decide that for yourself, however.
Sasquatch and the Snake: A Story in Two Languages
Sasquatch and the Snake: Part 1 (ENGLISH)
Sasquatch and the Snake: Part 2 (ENGLISH)
The Haisla language in which this story has traditionally been told is dying. There are fewer than 100 fluent speakers left in the world, which means many of these orally-based Haisla stories, and perhaps the profound knowledge contained within them, is in danger of being lost forever. Chief Ken is one of those few fluent speakers remaining. He has expressed to me many times his concern about the loss of Haisla language and culture. As a way of trying to preserve this language, his grandfather's language, his grandfather’s grandfather’s language, he tells us this story of Sasquatch and the Snake again, this time in Haisla (X̣enaksialak’ala), staying as close to the English version as possible.
Sasquatch and the Snake: Part 1 (HAISLA)
Sasquatch and the Snake: Part 2 (HAISLA)
For me, the story of Sasquatch and the Snake hasn't ended and in fact, it may be just beginning. I wonder if Ken's father's interpretation of Billy Hall's vision was perhaps a precursor? And with the very real possibility of a massive oil pipeline stretching through the pristine territory of the Kitlope, maybe the snake talked of in this story for decades is poised to strike to life. What do you think?