When I was a boy, I was on the shore of one of the Great Lakes of Canada at my grandparents’ summer cottage. I was out looking for fossils in the sand and stone piles along the shores when I found a sea shell fossil right in the middle of a stone that broke open when I picked it up. To my surprise the fossil looked like a side-view of a chief’s head wearing an eagle-feathered bonnet that the Cree Indian chiefs wore long ago.
A moment later I was startled by a great shadow that flew over me. I looked up and saw my very first eagle. It was the largest eagle that I have ever seen. I watched as it spiralled up above me in front of the sun. It was blinding at times. The silhouette seemed to change to the figure of a woman off-and-on as it dived down towards me, then up again.
It seemed to have dropped something that came spiralling down. I ran to see what it was. I picked it up and ran down the beach with my great treasures to show my parents what I had found.
To my dismay, the first thing that happened was my mother grabbed my wrist and shook the object that had fallen from the sky and I was told never to touch them, because they were considered to be from animals and could be dirty.
I turned the fossil over so it looked like a plain stone and hid it in my towel.
Later that day on the cottage porch where my grandfather was sitting I asked him if he wanted to see this treasure that I had found. He said, “OK, sit with me.” I showed him. To my amazement he sat up and said that it was the finest one that he had ever seen. “Look,” he said, “a picture of a great chief. Your ancestors’ angels must be watching over you to bless you with such a great find.”
I told him what I had seen that day and what had happened with the thing from the sky.
Later that week we flew home and when I unpacked my suitcase, hidden in one of my shirts was that object that had fallen from the sky. I had it for years. I don’t know where they found their home, but I was compelled to carve this small story panel to share one of my great moments of my life; to put it in stone like the fossil.
Gary Olver was born in 1966 in The Pas, Manitoba of Woodlands Cree descent. His family moved to British Columbia in 1975. On a family vacation to visit his uncle, who was stationed at the air force base in Masset, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), he met a number of the Haida artists, watched the artists working on various projects, and he was inspired by the quality of work in progress.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.
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