convergences Screen 43 | Departure

They have converged for a brief interval
on this small section of sea and shoreline,
and now the aliens are sailing away:
one episode, one month in a four year
voyage, and highly consequential for both
the people of this coast and these sailors
who are leaving this place at last,
the ships moving towards the open sea,
their great canvas sails filling with wind
while dozens of canoes follow them,
the occupants chanting farewell songs,
and Tsaxawasip making his final,
eloquent though uninterpretable, appeal.

         As we hove up anchor
              all the canoes in the cove
assembled together
         and sung us a parting song,
    flourishing the saws, swords, hatchets,
         and other things they got from us.
One man was mounted on a stage
         of loose boards
    supported by the Indians nearest it
              and danced to the singing
         with different masks on,
    at one time resembling a man
         and at others a bird or a beast.
These people importuned us much
              to return to them again,
and by way of encouragement promised
    to lay in a good stock of skins for us
          and I have not the least doubt
                           but they will.
                   We see
         many things worthy of imitation,
                        few of blame;
would to God they could say the same of us,
                    but we have left them
              an incurable disorder.
1772 Cook medallion

1772 Cook medallion.

In the summer of 1933 Arthur Nicolaye, a Kyuquaht, dug up a curious bronze medallion on the reserve on Village Island, some miles south of Yuquot. The medallion was one of a number struck in 1772 and distributed to various important personages on Cook's second voyage to the South Seas. There is no record of any of these medallions being taken on this third voyage, yet here is the evidence that someone brought one along. I wonder what has become of that curio, which theVictoria Colonist described as the most valuable historic relic of northwestern history ever unearthed. I wonder what the writer meant by that?

HMS Resolution by Henry Roberts. Click.


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