Fiercely independent, the people of Gitanyow village, formerly Kitwancool, distrusted authorities and intruders, effectively keeping their homeland isolated until the late 1920s. Carr was unable to access this Gitxsan community, with its renowned stand of totem poles, until 1928. There she sketched the base of the Skim-sim and Will-a-daugh pole, later rendering it in oil as Totem Mother, Kitwancool. She modified the face considerably, eliminating the deep vertical mortise between the nostrils which once secured a projecting nose. Barbeau's description makes reference to this figure as "Person-with-a-large-nose . . . . holding a child or human being in his hands" (Barbeau 1929:117).
Another interpretation was collected from Chief Wee-kha in 1958:
"The figures on the first totem-pole [on the left in photo RBCM PN03817] are as follows. The bird on the top is the Giant Woodpecker . . . , the figures around the top of the pole are the house carvings; next is the large bird Skim-sim, the mountain eagle; fourth is a row of carvings representing children or small people, the ones who fish through holes in the ice (the holes may be seen in the front of the house); the figure at the bottom of the pole, holding the child, is the important figure Will-a-daugh.
"The name of the pole is Skim-sim and Will-a-daugh. On these two depends the history of the pole. It holds many legends of the clan."
On to Ba'a's
See more paintings of Gitanyow
See more photographs of Gitanyow