1 March 2013

Eyes peeled

...in the course of [my] wanderings [in the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, the Stikine and the Nass], I came upon...a remarkable man: Alex Jack, an Gitxsan elder and chief who had lived as a trapper and a hunter in that country for all of his life. And over the course of 30 years, I recorded traditional tales from Alex, mostly mythological accounts of Wy-ghet, the trickster transformer of Gitxsan lore who, in his folly, taught the people how to live on the land. And just before Alex died at the age of 96, he gave me a gift. It was a tool carved from caribou bone by his grandfather in 1910, and it turned out to be a specialized implement used by a trapper to skin out the eyelids of wolves. It was only when Alex passed away that I realized that the eyelids, in some sense, were my own, and having done so much to allow me to learn to see, Alex in his own way was saying goodbye...
-- from A wilderness worth saving by Wade Davis

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