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Dan Schlanger

Dale Devost

In February 1869 a ship was driven ashore on the wild and rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. The entire crew perished in the pounding surf. A native Nuu-chah-nulth community nearby recovered bodies from the beach and buried them. The colonial government of the day decided to use the incidence as an excuse to "put the savages in their place." They sent a warship to the village, burnt several houses and used their canons to destroy canoes. They took hostages and demanded suspects be provided to be tried for murder. Two men Katkeena and Anyitzachist were turned over and taken to Victoria for trial. The trial even using the standards of the day was a sham. Neither men spoke English, there was no evidence and all the while the newspapers were inflaming the public and calling for blood. After deliberating for five minutes the jury returned a verdict of guilty, Katkeena and Anyitzachist were sentenced to hang. The judge also decided that in order to send a message to the natives that the two men would be taken back to their village and hung in front of their tribe and families. The grim task was carried out in July 1869.

The descendants of Anyitzachist have an entirely different version of history they have not forgotten or forgiven the injustice melded out to their ancestor.

In this documentary, the descendants of Anyitzachist will revive ancient ritual and ceremony as they carve a totem pole to honour their ancestor. The pole will be brought to the town of Tofino in July to coincide with the arrival of tall ships celebrating 150 years of British Columbia history. As the official ceremonies are going on the Nuu-chah-nulth nation will perform their own songs and dances, give their version of history and demand an apology from the government. The totem pole will be taken to Hoomis a beautiful remote untouched area of Vancouver Island's west coast. This is the ancestral territory of Anyitzachist, accompanied by ritual ceremonies and feasting, the family will raise the pole and declare their sovereign right to the land and sea.