Chief Adam Dick

Chief Adam Dick

Chief Adam Dick - Kwaaksistala, Kwaxkwaka'wakw (Kingcome Inlet)

"I use the language called the potlatch language"

Chief Adam Dick, who is known as Kwaxsistalla, was born in 1929, at the height of the government's horrendous and lawful measures to assimilate Aboriginal people into a way of life completely foreign to their own. 

Chief Adam Dick did not have a normal upbringing and was heavily protected as a young person. He was not allowed to have immunizations and was hidden from the police who came to take his peers to residential school. 

His training to be a Clan Chief started with an initiation into the Psa'sa, which lead him to hold several potlatch seats and knowledge of a complete seasonal round of food gathering practices of his people. The Psa'sa was an investment system for the Kwaxkwaka'wakw person that is now known as the Potlatch system.

When the anti-potlatch laws came into effect in the late 1800's, this all coincided with the institution of residential schools. Laws were instituted and carried out against the Kwaxkwaka'wakw people for practicing their own cultural laws and dances. The people resisted the only way they knew how and that was through the precise training that Kwaxsistalla was given from birth. Today, there are only a handful of people with the knowledge of cultural laws, protocols and history.

His life is committed to the cultural work of his people. He has organized and spoken at potlatches for most of the chiefs of his Nation. Some of the projects he has worked on include: the filming the traditional story of the Clam Gardens, travelling for the museum abroad to identify artifacts; principal source for the Kwakwala language program for School District 72; overseeing the writing and construction of props and the choreography of the Legend of Kawaillika for the opening ceremonies of the XV Commonwealth Games in 1994. He was the Principal Cultural Advisor for the Native Participation Committee at the Commonwealth Games.

Chief Adam Dick life's embodies the true nature of our ancestors. His dedication, hard work living in the natural world is a gift for First Nation's people today to honor.


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