A Haida family was rowing their canoe at low tide for most of the day, when they came across a place where some Devilfish stones lay and tracks that were left by them. The family followed the tracks, it lead them to the food they eat, and it was all piled up.
The father of the family was a shaman and was a great hunter. He pulled his canoe onto the rocks with intentions of finding and harvesting the Devilfish. He was searching the rocks when a great monster lashed out of hiding and dragged the shaman down into the dark of the ocean. The shaman’s family looked for their father, to no avail, and felt for sure that he had perished, and paddle for home in a mournful way.
The creature that caught the shaman was a female octopus [devilfish]. She took him to her village on the bottom of the ocean and placed him in front of her father that was the chief of the Devilfish. In time, the shaman was enchanted by the Devilfish Princess, fell in love, and they were married.
Many years had passed and the shaman had become chief of the Devilfish with his Devilfish Princess. But he was homesick for the land family that he had. So, one day he pleaded with his Devilfish Princess to let him see them only if she went with him and she agreed. They set out in the magical canoe that sped without oars and soon they reached the shores of his village where he was born. He brought with him the great wealth from the Devilfish kingdom which he traded as the powerful chief of the undersea world.
After a while his own children that were adult now found him as he was giving gifts to the people of the village from his canoe. His family threw five great potlatches for him.
Eventually, the Devilfish Princess cried for her watery world. Then one day while she and her husband sat in her father-in-law’s home, her shaman chief husband began to melt. At the same moment, the princess disappeared through the floor boards and her husband turned into a Devilfish and his soft, shiny body followed his princess wife between the floor planks and returned to the watery world of her father’s village.
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.
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