Pacific Rim National Park – A glimpse of beautiful ha’houlthee of the Nuu-chah-nulth – with some ponderings on civilization…

Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island (BC, Canada) between Tofino and Ucluelet. Photo by © Michaël Van Broekhoven. October 2011.

– Shortly before the October 2011 New Moon – Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation –

”]

.…  I just returned (to my swell chill pad in Victoria) from a couple spots within the ha’houlthee [chief territories] of the Nuu-chah-nulth [the First Nation “all along the mountains and sea”, a technically souvereign nation comprised of many sub-bands, about 300 km along the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Formerly known as Nootka.]

Long before the road gets windy and narrow, while it was still safe to snap a photo while driving...

It didn’t look like that on the map, but the drive from Port Alberni to the west coast is one crazy winding mountain road through dense forest, by rivers, with towering mountains, some even with snow on top!  Amazing panoramas dancing in the fog…   Road-dazed, I rolled into the surfer/whale watching/ecotourism/art gallery/… town of Tofino just after sunset.  Quiet…  Fairly empty… Nothing going on.  Or so it seemed…

Tourist Season is palpably over until the blessing rains hold up again …next summer.  Every campground I planned staying in was CLOSED. (What’s up with that? Do people not like rain???)

I didn’t feel like sleeping in my car.  There’s a lovely Youth Hostel in Tofino, however.  Even if you’re not a member, a mere $34 (CAD) for a bunk bed.  Not bad.  And $10 key deposit…  Check-out time 11 am.  The Belgian who worked there until recently was fired ’cause reportedly he partied too hard.  haha.  Our reputation is well upheld here too.  Good.  ;-)

After checking in, I wandered off into the darkness to the Maquinna, the only bar (with a pool table and open mic on Fridays) in town that was open.   Quite quiet too.  ‘Maquinna’, by the way, was a Mowachaht chief in the 18th century, further to the north  in these Nuu-chah-nulth aboriginal unceded treaty territories (see source of map below for some more details).   The Mowachaht is thus tribal band “3 bands north of the Tla-o-qui-aht”.

The Tla-o-qui-aht nation flag hung proudly at the top of a wall.

So I was on lands where the Tla-o-qui-aht live, in the Clayoquot Sound area near and around Tofino.  ‘The word ‘Clayoquot’ is, just like ‘Nootka’, basically the spelling of a really bad pronunciation of the aboriginal name.  So I learned from a Tla-o-qui-aht member at the bar, who later invited me to her family’s home on a nearby island.  And thus this tipsy’d-by-red-wine white boy found himself in good company, cruising in a water taxi to some island out there in the darkness somewhere…

Some boats, some totem poles,…  Scribbles of rebellion and despair on -and holes in- the walls, an eerily seen-this-before all-around mess of poverty, household chaos,… recovering broken families with stories of the boarding school disaster with which much of their culture was devastated on purpose by asshole missionary and other ignorant colonials… who somehow thought they were doing something good…

 “Thousands of children between 1880-1990 were exposed to kidnapping, unimaginable physical and sexual abuse, starvation and virtual slavery that until recently had been Canada’s dirty little secret. The Residential School disaster reached its peak in 1931. The savagery, however, continued for decades leaving physical, emotional, mental and spiritual scars that reverberate to this day.”  — SOURCE:  http://clfns.com/images/people/documents/history_of_indian_residential_schools.pdf

Distant Clearcuts, a giant paper/pulp mill, power lines, a lifeless asphalt paved-over reality commonly referred to as a 'road', buildings, and a mural of what used to be there before... Port Alberni, BC. Photo by Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2011.

Sometimes some modern-cuture people (at low vibrational sports bars, for example) talk negatively of the First Nations, as if they’re “trouble”, more plagued by social ills, etc., …but with all due disrespect, it seems to me the issues really are the same among all financially poor people.  Add the aftermath of extremely recent genocide…  (up to 90% of Vancouver Island’s First Nations population was annihilated through colonial warfare or (mainly) lack of resistance to newly introduced diseases),…  Not to mention the pillage of the land’s riches…  Some more solidarity would go a lot further.

I’ve only been here just over a month, but.. it seems from what I pick up here and there through countless bits of conversations that through ceremony, education and a diversifying economic base, the healing continues, with major progress being made in recent decades.  All in all, a strong and proud aboriginal cultural revival is happening.  If I could be so lucky to someday truly call this place home, I would have much to learn…

A little digression…:

 [–> 2 Saami People flags]

It’s not the first time this has happened (At least once in remote Northern California), but somehow because of my opinions, views and perhaps even semi-nomadic ways, I was asked if I’m of  “a European equivalent of First Nations…”  Actually, I was told that I am European First Nations, but I had to explain I REALLY wasn’t – ha.  (Drifted pretty far, but stilll… Very much not the case.)  Coming from thoroughly bombed, over-industrialized, brainwashed, and paved over Western Europe, I consider that a compliment, though.  But the only ones who I think can still make that claim in Europe are the Saami, the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi [formerly/pejoratively also known as “Lapland”], which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

For comparison, I speak a watered-down regional dialect of Flemish, the Dutch spoken (in at least a dozen variations) in Belgium.  Someone familiar with regional Dutch-language differences could pin-point -to within about 30 kilometers!– where I grew up.  That close tie between language and land is one element I appreciate (I had to leave to even see its significance, though), but I guess the more significant similarity I can find with aboriginals practically everywhere is that of historical oppression of a language (which I consider at the core of any culture) on the one hand (in the Flemish case by the French-speaking elite up until about a half century ago when that changed; in the Nuu-chah-nulth case by mostly English-speaking colonizers (ongoing, but showing hopeful signs of improving relations), and the systematic attempt to destroy all remnants of nature spirituality as well

An interesting read on the Church's role in the extermination of nature-spirituality-based aboriginal culture in Europe. (Click to see description on Amazon.)

as all-out war against gnostic/mystic spiritual communities (by ‘the Church’ and aligned zealots, in both cases), all which leaves aboriginal European history rather similar to aboriginal history just about everywhere…

The main difference is on the time line of history.  The scientific reductionist everything-is-dead-or-soon-will-be perception, one of the aspects of modern culture (i sense) seems to first have struck in some pockets from the Mediterranean to Central Asia, and spread from there.  This elusive ‘it’ infected western Europe long before it spread to North America.  The roots of the European variant of this “asymmetricalizing socio-ecological pattern” […if you know what I mean… ;-/ … ‘Modernity’ by lack of a better term?] seems to go back to Sumerian times some 8,000 years ago.  Other “civilization variants” all over the world perhaps could have mutated into similar forms of alienation, but a nasty track within the European strain reached “airborne death culture status” first.  Spread through organized religions, polytechnical, business and law schools, ideologies, imposed disempowering forms of governance, through product design, mind-control social engineering, (bad diets?), and a de facto culture of denial and entertainment,… it has infected every

Architecture speaks... One of thousands of building projects sprouting up across the planet, this one in Bejing, China, 2008.

corner of the planet’s mindscape.  If left unhealed, it will kill all life on Earth.  That remains as true now as it was 1,000 years ago…

I have no doubt profound healing is occurring in many communities and individuals, though, but on a planetary level…  Dear goddess…

Anyhow… I think it would be amazing if the First Nations’ languages became the first language of the respective regions, with the colonial language(s), like English, the second language.  Strange, I thought, that First Nations people I met actually thought their language should become the second language… leaving me in the bizarre situation of a European (utterly lost without a geographical home, at that), trying to make a case for promoting their language…

Just like schooling, the courts, law enforcement and military and business in Flanders can now all be conducted in Flemish rather than French (as it used to be in my grandparent’s time), I don’t see why this can’t happen here.  Well… I can… you would need English-speaking people, in the vast majority now, to be open to this.  It’s probably as unlikely to happen here as the majority of Chinese in Tibet choosing to learn Tibetan and deciding to make it the region’s first language again, officially…  Right.  Dreaming on…

Lake Kennedy, just after leaving Ucluelet, BC.

Besides pronouncing some words more correctly, and that Chú [in Dutch it would be pronounced “Tsjoe”] means both ‘hello’ as ‘goodbye’ right there, I didn’t get very far in one night…  [Blogpost about the regional languages coming soon…]

Should have asked for a water taxi to be called, but the advice of waving at distant boats or just waiting until one shows up worked too.  I trust the flow.  And when I do, it flows nicely.   In the drenching downpour morning light, I could see where I had ended up.  Back in Tofino in time to get my key deposit back.  Too bad I wasted $34 on a bed I never used.  Oh well…  One of those adventures I won’t easily forget.

I lucked out with the weather.  No better time to visit the rainforest than in brief breaks between blissful pouring rain…  Drip drip drip…  

Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BC. A far-off-the ground boardwalk trail leads through dense ancient forest, with Western Hemlocks, 800-year old Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce and big leaf maples, in a dripping mossy wonderland of lycheon and ferns… Photo © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2011

So beautiful…  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it here…

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