Chi!: A story told by Jut-ke-Nau Hazel Wilson
Leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, Figure 1 is sharing excerpts, quotes and stories from select Indigenous Art + Culture titles. This story by Jut-ke-Nau Hazel Wilson is excerpted from Glory and Exile: Haida History—Robes of Jut-ke-Nay Hazel Wilson.
Chi! Is a delicacy favourite by my people a hazel translucent in colour with a strong smell. Eaten with potatoes provides a satisfying meal.
Chi! is a forgotten food, like the birds we used to pick. At one time every year my parents and grandparents went to Ian to smoke fish, they would process Chi! Chi! is salmon eggs, as they worked on the fish they would gather all the salmon eggs, at the end of the day, all salmon eggs were put into big pots fill it up to the brim and seal it. Holes were dug by the rivers edge by the men, they would dig a lot of holes with hopes of filling it up with Chi! The Chi! would stay in the ground for six weeks to three months. After six weeks to three months they would check on it, by putting a piece of silver in it, if the silver blacken upon touching the Chi! it was done, if it didn’t blacken the whole pot was spilled out. The process of the Chi! stopped as soon as it was open.
I loved it to me and my parents it was delicious. My parents were told not to make it anymore because we were told one spoon can kill a whole family they told us it was pure poison.
Some people call the Chi! stink eggs. My mother had some grandchildren whom she had raised after my sister passed. One of them had beautiful eyes, they looked like Chi! Mother told her she had stink eyes, and she took offense because she had no knowledge of the Chi!
Mother felt bad because to her she was giving her a compliment of her beauty.
Later on she had a child and she too had eyes that looked like Chi! Mother then looked at her and said she had stink eyes. It made my niece angry because she heard mother telling me. She had not grown up with the same language as I had. Mother spoke only Haida to me, I did not understand her when she spoke english to me because I was used to her speaking only Haida to me.
So out there I have a niece and grand-niece whom have beautiful eyes that look like Chi!
And with this blanket I put Chi! back to my people’s life.
Chi! 2006/2007 • Melton cloth with acrylic paint, fabric, suede, plastic buttons, thread • 154 × 150 cm
Actions you can take this week and on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
- Join daily lunch and learns hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Attend a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation event near you
- Buy from an Indigenous artist, give an Indigenous-led podcast a listen or check out new music by Indigenous artists
- Read a book by an Indigenous author
- Make a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Sign up for a free course such as Indigenous Canada at the University of Albert
Figure 1 Publishing is located in the traditional, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We recognize that British Columbia and Canada were created through organized dispossession and colonial violence, and we commit to work responsibly and constructively with Indigenous authors and contributors to help create a vital present and future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities living on these lands.