There were three boys playing near the river, building a fire to keep warm and cook the trout they had caught. A small frog wanted to get into the river but had to pass by them. Twice, the boys tossed the frog back into the woods. The third time, they tossed the frog into the fire, where it burned to death.
That evening, the woman who watches over the forest realized one of her children was missing. She came to the smouldering fire and saw the burned carcass of her forest child. She wandered, crying, until she came to the camp of a blind man. She told him that the boys had killed the frog out of cruelty and must be punished.
The blind man went to the families of the boys, but they did not think their boys needed to be punished for the death of one frog. Again, the old man went to the village, but this time they laughed at him. The woman told the old man to leave and travel far away from the village. She then went up the mountain and implored the earth to cover the village for its disregard of the lives of her children. The mountain erupted, killing them all.
To this day you can see where the lava settled for miles around the Nass valley. This is a reminder that all lives are precious and should be taken only for food, clothing or when absolutely necessary.
Featured in the book Spirit Faces: Contemporary Masks of the Northwest Coast by Gary Wyatt, pages 49-50.
Norman was born in 1941 in the northern community of Kincolith, British Columbia. He learned from his family protocols, oral histories and ceremonies and had an early interest in the arts. He carved the 16.5-metre (55-foot) totem pole for the entranceway to the Field Museum in Chicago and a totem pole commissioned by the British royal family for Bushy Park in London. He has carved and ceremonially raised five totem poles in Greater Vancouver, including at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, Stanley Park, Capilano Mall and the Native Education Centre. He has conducted extensive research into Nisga’a art and is the foremost Nisga’a artist in wood, precious metals and graphics.
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