In myth times, Umeł was known as “Chief-of-the-Ancients” or Raven personified. He was at once both trickster and transformer. During these times of immense change, turbulence, and darkness, Umeł brought light into the world. Because we never had any rivers or streams at that time, Umeł emptied out a sea lion’s bladder full of water and thus created the river systems throughout our territory. He did this so that the salmon could return up stream and feed the people. Umeł also instructed people on how to use cedar bark and how to make clothes and blankets. In memory of this, our leaders continue to give feasts and potlatches to this day: distributing salmon and blankets to share our wealth with our neighbours.
In the old days, our leaders were taught from birth on how to act as a noble person…on how to best serve the people…on how to follow the example of giving set forth by Umeł. They were instructed about the great burden of responsibility that comes with being a leader. Being so fundamentally connected to all the people in their care, they had no choice but to lift their people up. They were taught that they would rise or fall alongside the people.
Slowly over time, this type of leadership has decayed. Whether driven by greed, ego, ambition or simply apathy, some of our leaders have journeyed down a dark path. They have come to seek personal gain over community interest. While most leaders begin their journeys with good hearts, not all are able to maintain this true course.
Where does this leave us today? We are left gazing into the eyes of our would-be leaders…waiting for them to remove the mask…waiting for them to put their community first. We want leaders who are not afraid to wear the mantle of Umeł…those who are able to bring light into the darkness…those who are driven to lead their people to Rise!
- Andy Everson
“Rise” is a limited edition print using the giclée method of printmaking. This print was released in March of 2017 and printed by Andy Everson at the artist’s own studio in Comox B.C. A total of 251 prints bear the title “Rise” and are signed by Andy Everson: 199 in the primary edition bearing the numbers 1/199 through 199/199; 19 Artist’s Proofs; 19 Remarques, 10 Special Edition Canvas Proofs and 4 Printer’s Proofs. The acid-free 100% cotton rag paper measures about 17x22 inches. Image size measures about 14.5x19 inches on the paper editions.