Mama’u was a very tiny, tiny woman but very powerful. She was the mother of all mothers. She would tell stories about — especially about the maniwa (ph) that she was so afraid of. She would tell stories about them coming in to Kemano, turning around and going back out, and then always cautioned us whenever they arrived in Butedale — that was our summer home — to stay away from there because they’ll kidnap us. We were never allowed to go down to the float. We always had to stay in our area.
I was one of the luckiest ones that was brought up by the community. Butedale and Kemano was a very small community. Men went out fishing; the women stayed home. Everybody was our mother. All of us, everybody was our mother, but mama’u was the head. Like Clifford said, she was the head.
I remember when the first helicopter she ever saw in Kemano, she ran out with a broom trying to chase that helicopter away because she’d never seen one before.
My traditional foods are now from my dad, brother, brother-in-law that fish and hunt and they share with me. Have you heard previously about the traditional foods that we have and had? Some of them we haven’t tasted in a long time, especially, for me, living in town.
Included in it is the red cod, black cod, halibut, trout, eulachon, eulachon grease, clams, cockles, sea cucumbers, mussels, sea urchins, prawns, herring, herring eggs, crabs, hunting goat, bear, moose, seal meat, ducks, geese. Most of them are prepared the same way; smoked. Halibut is dried, air dried, canned, barbecued. Best is eating it fresh.
I, myself, fish in the Kitimat River for small trout, salmon, steelhead. Follow the season.
In the Hamatichi-sa Kitamaat Village — Kemano Village, pardon me — I trap squirrels. My dad taught me how to trap squirrels, skin it and stretch it, clean it, rabbits, martin, weasels. I trapped with my dad. Then I would sell it to provide income for myself, enough to buy candy or a chocolate bar whenever we walked so many kilometres — in those days it was miles — up to Kemano where Alcan had built a water — where they got their water, where they get their B.C. Hydro water.
I remember skinning my first weasel, and there’s a part in there that you have to make sure you miss, and I didn’t. And my dad stood by and laughed and laughed because when you hit that spot, it smells, but I still had to clean it myself. I used to get 25 cents a squirrel if it was really nice, five cents if it wasn’t, so I made a lot of nickels.
Nuxalk is visual learning, by watching your grandparents or your parents prepare. The most fascinating part of preparing was eulachon grease, the preparation and how long it takes to prepare for eulachon grease.
My youngest son had an opportunity to go with Chief Gupsgolox to help make the eulachon grease.
Mama’u taught us never to waste any kind of food. I don’t ever recall seeing garbage around in Kemano, in our little village, or up in Kitlope, because that’s what we were taught.
Mama’u took me up to Kitlope to go eulachon grease making up there, and we’d go up in a — in those days they were called the little putt-putt boats. When you started it, you had to turn this wheel. Up there is a story about the man who turned to stone. And I recall her always putting a towel or a blanket over my head as we were going by the man who turned to stone.
Then one day I asked her, “Why do you do that to me?” I’m a nosy kid. I’ve been nosy since I was small and still am today. She said, “Because I didn’t want you to have nightmares because when you’re going by that man who turned to stone, it looks like he’s watching you as you’re going by.”