Silyas Crest Silyas Crest
Dimensions: 51" x 38" x 2.75"
Wood: Red Cedar

Like many Northwest Coast peoples, the Nuxalk of Bella Coola believed that their first ancestors descended from the upper world of the Creator. These first Ones had the special ability to change from human to animal form and back again. Eventually Killer Whale, Eagle, Salmon, Raven, Bear, Wolf, Mink, and other first ancestors lost their ability to transform and remained in their human shape. As time went on, Nuxalk culture became centered upon the ability of each family member to trace back their lineage to one or more of the first Ones to come down from Nusmata, the land above. Stories, dances, names, crests and carvings became sacred and cherished possessions of individual families. Special prerogatives were validated and passed down through the generations in order to keep the memory of each family's lineage alive. The Killer Whale and Eagle in the design by Nuxalk artist Silyas Saunders represented his family crests.