This morning found National Geographic Quest tied to the dock in Alert Bay, British Columbia. We were all invited to the U’mista Cultural Center to view the story of the ‘Namgis people as told by their beautiful artwork and regalia. Walking along the waterfront afforded us views into the daily lives of these fiercely independent people.
After satiating ourselves with information of times past, we walked up to the longhouse at the top of the hill overlooking town. The longhouse for the ‘Namgis people is, appropriately enough, guarded by the tallest totem pole in the world. We were invited inside the longhouse; the toasty fire burning in the center was a welcome respite from the rain.
Dancers came out and performed several ‘Namgis dances. Dancers young and old were swaying to the beats pounded out on drums. There were several different stories being told by the dancers and we all sat entranced by the beauty and the movement of each. At the end of the performance the dancers came into the crowd and invited us to participate in a final dance circling around the still-raging fire in the middle of the floor. What a pleasure to see the vibrance and pride of a community so well represented in dancers so young.