Transcript - Minee’eskw, Gitlax̱t’aamiks

I’m Simoogit Minee’eskw. The name Minee’eskw has been handed down for many many generations. This is my brother Luu a yay Simoo’git G̱ooḵ. What I will be going through is probably an era of 1903.

In 1903 the ground that we are standing on, [we know] from research the Eagle longhouses went right around the bank in this area, and the title I have is Simoo’git Minee’eskw is right were this little building is at. That is the longhouse that goes back to the bank and all these longhouses like Minee’eskw will be looking downriver. And as it turns behind me, the longhouses gradually turn and face the river. The river was the main transportation in those days. This been for the protection of our ancestors at that time.

The Minee’eskw house – I would like to talk on that a little. It had right on top of the building is what’s on the Minee’eskw blanket. There are small round figures with the human head on there. That is before the beginning of time and you will only find this on the Minee’eskw blanket. The blanket is a cloth pole, and this building behind me had the figures right over the top right under the eve and there was a human head, a bigger one, that was coming through with a breeze blowing the hair.

The story on that is when it was coming into being. That would be in towards to darkness to daylight that is going way back many centuries. And all these are captured on the Minee’eskw long house and he had a long prehistoric bird that they call Gibilx̱. But Minee’eskw isn’t the only one that’s in that will display on the Pts’aan Gibilx is also on the pole of other Lax̱sgiik poles and probably I heard stories from other tribes but they did not use the figure. But they do have stories on it.

The Gibilx̱ beak is probably 40 feet long. It had braces right over the bank, yet at that time it wasn’t on the pole, it was on the longhouse.

The pole that stood beside the Minee’eskw house was called G̱an – it wasn’t Pts’aan. Pts’aan is the one that is carved all the way to the top and the back hollowed out. This was a G̱an, and it had on the bottom a whale – a whale that has just come out of the water, taken air, and gone back down. They call that Luuga Gyuukt, and the other one that’s on top was Gwatskw – Sea Otter – and it had a Gabook on it’s chest. And from there, there is no carving until you get to the top of the pole. It’s a round pole and a split eagle or straight eagle is on top, and there are other poles there probably looking in the family of Minee’eskw. I don’t have a figure but I think there would be a dozen different houses within the Minee’eskw clan that would belong to my brother here G̱ooḵ.

My other brother Jupsyee and he has the biggest pole which is now in decay that was taken down to Victoria. It’s in a museum and it is down. It aged to a point and it’s not safe to have it standing. The only way we can have it is to have it reproduced – to have it redone by an artist.

My brother, Simoogit G̱ooḵ. My dad was always there for us. He didn’t want to go to school to finish his education. He was strict on education. I had to go out and work. He lived here for 5 months. After when I finished my first year of university, I finished then I moved back.

Then in 1962 I moved back. I found a job in Terrace, in the logging industry. I stayed out there for 5 years, and then 1966 I moved back. Then I got married here in the old Victory Hall. I think I was one of the last ones to get married here in the old village before people started moving.

My cousin died in a car accident the same day we were getting married. My grandfather Anthony Adams Ni’isyoḵ, my wife’s father, was grieving. They were really strict. They never allowed any dancing or anything at our wedding. Till this day we still haven’t had a wedding waltz. Every time we tried something always came up, but the old people were really strict.

I remember when I was young we had to be at church every Sunday, and on Sunday there was nothing done here in the village. We weren’t allowed to get wood all that day. We had to pack water and you were not allowed to get it on Sunday. You had to get everything on Saturday, and Sunday you stayed home. It was quiet. The Church Army was very strong, not like now. In the old days, they traveled up and down this river – the Church Army and the Salvation Army.

Late uncles that were very good with us when we all got back Late James Woods. All my uncles his name is Gastu’in Les Woods. Basil – his house was right there – Basil Wright. He was adopted when he was small into Txeemsim, but he still he didn’t hold anything back on it. He knew everything that went on with Minee’eskw’s house.

Also Harold – Uncle Harold Wright, my uncle’s grandfather’s brother. Adam Ni’isyoḵ – he was G̱ooḵ. My other grandfather Titus Minee’eskw – he didn’t hold anything back on us – he passed everything down. As we mentioned earlier, he came through the glacier way up, earlier when we moved here. We came through the glacier and our lament song mentions that glacier and also mentions down in Kincolith. We made our way up here.

Our lament song, we can only sing it when one of our Simoo’gits or Sigidim Hanaks [dies]. I know Titus Meeneskw taught my brother Rod, then Rod passed it down to us and I sang it when my brother Rod passed on, but as far as I know I think we’re the only ones that still use the lament song. It mentions where we originated up Alaska way, then we came through the glacier right down to where we are now.

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