Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Two Sisters - THE LIONS

Twin Sisters
YOU can see them as you look towards the north and the west, where the dream hills swim into the sky amid their ever-drifting clouds of pearl and grey.

They catch the earliest hint of sunrise, they hold the last color of sunset. Twin mountains they are, lifting their twin peaks above the fairest city in all Canada, and known throughout the British Empire as "The Lions of Vancouver."

Sometimes the smoke of forest fires blurs them until they gleam like opals in a purple atmosphere, too beautiful for words to paint.

Sometimes the slanting rains festoon scarfs of mist about their crests, and the peaks fade into shadowy outlines, melting, melting, for-ever melting into the distances. But for most days in the year the sun circles the twin glories with a sweep of gold. The moon washes them with a torrent of silver.

Often-times, when the city is shrouded in rain, the sun yellows their snows to a deep orange, but through sun and shadow they stand immovable, smiling westward above the waters of the restless Pacific, eastward above the superb beauty of the Capilano Canyon. But the Indian tribes do not know these peaks as "The Lions."

Even the Chief, whose feet have so recently wandered to the Happy Hunting Grounds, never heard the name given them until I mentioned it to him one dreamy August day, as together we followed the trail leading to the canyon. He seemed so surprised at the name that I mentioned the reason it had been applied to them, asking him if he recalled the Landseer Lions in Trafalgar Square. Yes, he remembered those splendid sculptures, and his quick eye saw the resemblance instantly. It appeared to please him, and his fine face expressed the haunting memories of the far-away roar of Old London.

But the "call of the blood" was stronger, and presently he referred to the Indian legend of those peaks a legend that I have reason to believe is absolutely unknown to thousands of Palefaces who look upon "The Lions" daily, without the love for them that is in the Indian heart; without knowledge of the secret of "The Two Sisters."

The legend was far more fascinating as it left his lips in the quaint broken English that is never so dulcet as when it slips from an Indian tongue. His inimitable gestures, strong, graceful, comprehensive, were like a perfectly chosen frame embracing a delicate painting, and his brooding eyes were as the light in which the picture hung.

"Many thousands of years ago," he began, "there were no twin peaks like sentinels guarding the outposts of this sunset coast. They were placed there long after the first creation, when the Sagalie Tyee moulded the mountains, and patterned the mighty rivers where the salmon run, because of His love for His Indian children, and His Wisdom for their necessities.

In those times there were many and mighty Indian tribes along the Pacific in the mountain ranges, at the shores and sources of the great Fraser River. Indian law ruled the land. Indian customs prevailed. Indian beliefs were regarded. Those were the legend-making ages when great things occurred to make the traditions we repeat to our children today.

Perhaps the greatest of these traditions is the story of 'The Two Sisters,' for they are known to us as 'The Chief's Daughters,' and to them we owe the Great Peace in which we live, and have lived for many countless moons. There is an ancient custom amongst the Coast tribes that when our daughters step from childhood into the great world of womanhood the occasion must be made one of extreme rejoicing.

The being who possesses the possibility of some day mothering a man child, a warrior, a brave, receives much consideration in most nations, but to us, the Sunset Tribes, she is honored above all people. The parents usually give a great potlatch, and a feast that lasts many days. The entire tribe and the surrounding tribes are bidden to this festival.

More than that, sometimes when a great Tyee celebrates for his daughter, the tribes from far up the coast, from the distant north, from inland, from the island, from the Cariboo country, are gathered as guests to the feast.

During these days of rejoicing, the girl is placed in a high seat, an exalted position, for is she not marriageable? And does not marriage mean motherhood? And does not motherhood mean a vaster nation of brave sons and of gentle daughters, who, in their turn, will give us sons and daughters of their own?

"But it was many thousands of years ago that a great Tyee had two daughters that grew to womanhood at the same springtime, when the first great run of salmon thronged the rivers, and the ollallie bushes were heavy with blossoms. These two daughters were young, lovable, and oh! very beautiful.

Their father, the great Tyee, prepared to make a feast such as the Coast had never seen. There were to be days and days of rejoicing, the people were to come for many leagues, were to bring gifts to the girls and to receive gifts of great value from the Chief, and hospitality was to reign as long as pleasuring feet could dance, and enjoying lips could laugh, and mouths partake of the excellence of the Chief's fish, game and ollallies.

"The only shadow on the joy of it all was war, for the tribe of the great Tyee was at war with the Upper Coast Indians, those who lived north, near what is named by the Pale-face as the port of Prince Rupert. Giant war canoes slipped along the entire coast, war parties paddled up and down, war songs broke the silences of the nights, hatred, vengeance, strife, horror festered everywhere like sores on the surface of the earth.

But the great Tyee, after warring for weeks, turned and laughed at the battle and the bloodshed, for he had been victor in every encounter, and he could well afford to leave the strife for a brief week and feast in his daughters' honor, nor permit any mere enemy to come between him and the traditions of his race and household.

So he turned insultingly deaf ears to their war cries; he ignored with arrogant indifference their paddle dips that encroached within his own coast waters, and he prepared, as a great Tyee should, to royally entertain his tribesmen in honor of his daughters. But seven suns before the great feast these two maidens came before him, hand clasped in hand.

'Oh ! our father,' they said, 'may we speak?'

'Speak, my daughters, my girls with the eyes of April, the hearts of June' (early spring and early summer would be the more accurate Indian phrasing).

'Some day, Oh ! our father, we may mother a man child, who may grow to be just such a powerful Tyee as you are, and for this honor that may some day be ours we have come to crave a favor of you you, Oh! our father.'

'It is your privilege at this celebration to receive any favor your hearts may wish,' he replied graciously, placing his fingers beneath their girlish chins. 'The favor is yours before you ask it, my daughters.'

'Will you, for our sakes, invite the great northern hostile tribe the tribe you war upon to this, our feast?' they asked fearlessly.

'To a peaceful feast, a feast in the honor of women?' he exclaimed incredulously.

'So we would desire it,' they answered.

'And so shall it be,' he declared. 'I can deny you nothing this day, and some time you may bear sons to bless this peace you have asked, and to bless their mother's sire for granting it.' Then he turned to all the young men of the tribe and commanded, 'Build fires at sunset on all the coast headlands fires of welcome. Man your canoes and face the north, greet the enemy, and tell them that I, the Tyee of the Capilanos, ask no, command that they join me for a great feast in honor of my two daughters.'

And when the northern tribes got this invitation they flocked down the coast to this feast of a Great Peace. They brought their women and their children: they brought game and fish, gold and white stone beads, baskets and carven ladles, and wonderful woven blankets to lay at the feet of their now acknowledged ruler, the great Tyee.

And he, in turn, gave such a potlatch that nothing but tradition can vie with it. There were long, glad days of joyousness, long pleasurable nights of dancing and camp fires, and vast quantities of food.

The war canoes were emptied of their deadly weapons and filled with the daily catch of salmon. The hostile war songs ceased, and in their place were heard the soft shuffle of dancing feet, the singing voices of women, the play-games of the children of two powerful tribes which had been until now ancient enemies, for a great and lasting brotherhood was sealed between them their war songs were ended forever.

"Then the Sagalie Tyee smiled on His Indian children: 'I will make these young-eyed maidens immortal,' He said. In the cup of His hands He lifted the Chief's two daughters and set them forever in a high place, for they had borne two offspring Peace and Brotherhood each of which is now a great Tyee ruling this land.

"And on the mountain crest the Chief's daughters can be seen wrapped in the suns, the snows, the stars of all seasons, for they have stood in this high place for thousands of years, and will stand for thousands of years to come, guarding the peace of the Pacific Coast and the quiet of the Capilano Canyon."

This is the Indian legend of "The Lions of Vancouver" as I had it from one who will tell me no more the traditions of his people.

Johnson, Pauline - "Legends of Vancouver", 1906

"The Sisters"
The Indigenous Peoples Sḵwxwú7mesh ("Squamish") named these two prominent peaks "Ch'ich'iyúy Elxwíkn" (translates as 'Twin Sisters'). These mountains remain sacred for their legal marker of a Peace Treaty, family lineage histories, and spiritual value.

The two peaks were transformed by the Sky Brothers, or Transformers, after twin sisters that had married with Haida twins created the path for the war to end between the Sḵwxwú7mesh and Haida. The families that made the Peace Treaty and married together still live in the Sḵwxwú7mesh and Haida Nations.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chapter 24 Application

We, the undersigned, Alaskan Natives of Hydaburg, Alaska, hereby declar that we have given up our old tribal relationships; that we recognize no chief of clan or tribal family; that we have given up all claim to or interest in tribal and communal houses; that we live in one family houses in accordance with the customs of civilization; that we observe the marriage laws of the United States; that our children take the name of the father and belong equally to the father and mother, and that the rights of the maternal uncle to direct the children are no longer recognized and that in the case of the death of either parent we recognize the laws of the United States relative to inheritance of property; that we have discarded the totem and recognize the Stars and Stripes as our only emblem; and that we are a self-supporting and law abiding people.

We therefore believe that we have fulfilled all requirements necessary to citizenship in the United States, and we respectfully request the Congress of the United States to pass a law granting to us the full rights of citizenship.


Scanned copy of original document:

See also:
An Act - to define and establish the political status of Native Indians

Chapter 24 -- An Act

Page 52

(Ch. 24)

To define and establish the political status of certain 
Native Indians within the Territory of Alaska.


Native Indians, citizens under provisions of Sec. 6, Ch. 119

Section 1. Every native Indian born within the limits of the Territory of Alaska, and who has severed all tribal relationship and adopted the habits of a civilized life in accordance with Section Six (6), Chapter One hundred and nineteen (119), may, after the passage and approval of this act, have the fact of his citizenship definitely established by complying with the terms hereafter set forth.

Section 2. Every native Indian of the Territory of Alaska who shall desire a certificate of his citizenship shall make application to a United States Government, Territorial or municipal school, and shall be subject to an examination by a majority of the teachers of such school as to his or her qualifications and claims for citizenship. Such examination shall broadly cover the general qualifications of the applicant as to an intelligent exercise of the obligations of suffrage, a total abandonment of any tribal custom or relationship, and the facts regarding the applicant’s adoption of the habits of a civilized life.

Section 3. Any native Indian of the Territory of Alaska who shall obtain a certificate in accordance with Section Two (2) of this act, which certificate shall set forth that a proper examination has been duly held and the applicant found to have abandoned all tribal customs and relationship, to have adopted the ways and habits of a civilized life and to be properly qualified to intelligently exercise the obligation of an elector in the Territory of Alaska, shall thereupon obtain an endorsement upon said certificate by at least five white citizens of the United States who have been permanent residents of Alaska for at least one year, who were not members of the examining board as provided in Section 2. to the effect that such citizens have been personally acquainted with the life and habits of such Indian for a period of at least one year and that in their best judgment such Indian has abandoned all tribal customs and relationship, has adopted the ways and habits of a civilized life, and is duly qualified to exercise the rights, privileges and oblibations of citizenship.

Application to District Court

Section 4. Upon securing such certificate as provided by sections two (2) and three (3) of this act properly signed in ink, the applicant shall forward the same together with an oath duly acknowledged to the effect that such applicant forever renounces all trible customs and relationships, to the United States District Court for the Division in which the applicant resides praying for the granting of a certificate or citizenship.


Section 5. Upon receiving such application the Judge of the District Court shall set a day of hearing on such application which shall not be less than sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of such application, whereupon the Clerk of the District Court shall post a notice in his office containing the name of the applicant and the facts set forth in his application, and the date set for the hearing upon the application, and shall immediately forward a copy of such notice to the applicant, whereupon the applicant shall post such notice or a copy thereof in a conspicuous place at the Post Office nearest to his or her residence.

Final Certificate.

Section 6. Upon approval of such application by the Judge of the United States District Court for the Division in which the applicant resides, the said Judge shall issue a certificate, certifying that due proof has been made to him that the said applicant is "an Indian born with the Territorial limits of the United States, and that he has voluntarily taken up, within limits, his residence separate and apart from any tribe of Indians therein, and has adopted the habits of civilized life." Said certificate, when presented in court or otherwise, shall be taken and considered as prima facie evidence of the truth of the statement therein contained.

Approved, April 27, 1915

Scanned copy of original document

Applicants for Citizenship re: Chapter 24

See also:
Native Indians born in Canada, re: Jay Treaty (PDF)