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Grade Level: Grade 4/5 (Can be modified for Primary and Intermediate)

Activity: Students will learn about the Hamat´sa - the first and most important of Kwakwaka’wakw dances in the T´seka ceremony; and create their own Hamsa

Estimated Time: 3 periods

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

  • Context
    • C1 compare dances from a variety of cultural and social contexts
    • C1 participate in music from a variety of historical cultural and social contexts
  • Identify, Society, and Culture
    • B3 identify effects of early contact between Aboriginal societies and European explorers and settlers
  • Governance
    • C2 identify the impact of Canadian governance on Aboriginal people’s rights

Resources Required

Section of Website containing relevant information, photographs and film clips:

Blackline Masters:

Audio Clips:

Film Clips:

Kwak´wala Language Component:

New Words

Baxwbakwalanuksiwe’ (Bock bock wally NUCKS ee way) - cannibal that lives at the north end of the world.

Hamat´sa - is the most important dance of the Kwakwaka’wakw and he/she is possessed by Baxwbakwalanuksiwe’ - the man-eater that lives at the north end of the world.

Hiligaxste’ - is the female relative of the Hamat´sa who helps to calm and soothe him and prepares the food for him in his taming process.

Taming - the return of a possessed person into a state of equilibrium allowing him or her to return to live among his people.

Hamsamala - the man-eating bird attendants of the Hamat´sa (also called the dance of the Hamat´sa masks).

Hilik´ala - the final dance of the Hamat´sa where he/she returns to their tamed state.

Regalia - the special clothing and accessories used by certain dancers and celebrants during potlatches and other ceremonies which could include; neck rings, wristlets and anklets, headpiece, cedar bark skirt, button blanket, dance apron, etc.

Period 1 - What is the Hamat´sa and How We Got the Hamat´sa

Introduce students to the Hamat´sa; inform students that they will be learning about the most important dance of the Kwakwaka’wakw.

Ask questions prior to sharing the ‘Namgis story of how we got the Hamat´sa, What do you think this story might be about? What is a cannibal?

Using BLM 5A, Read the ‘Namgis story of how we got the Hamat´sa which tells one tribe’s story of how they received the dance of the Hamat´sa. It is always important to remember that every tribe has their own stories of how these treasures came to them.

After reading the story with students, review the questions asked prior to story and ask additional questions; Who is Baxwbakwalanuksiwe’, why do you think the boys went into the house of the cannibal? What were the supernatural things that helped them get away from the Cannibal?

Draw a picture from the story - such as biting insects, the brothers in the woods seeing the cannibal house, etc. Completed pictures can be displayed at the Lesson 10 final pole-raising feast.

Period 2/3

Use BLM 5B&D Hamat´sa fact sheet and Hamat´sa worksheet to learn more about the Hamat´sa.

After reviewing the fact sheet, look at the video clip – Hamsamala, Man-eating Birds Dance (in Virtual Tour). This shows the Hamat´sa bird masks being danced. Ask the students to watch out for the three different masks, raven, huxwhukw (long beak mask) and galukwamł (crooked beak mask). Now have students look over the worksheet BLM 5D.

Finish off the lesson with BLM 5C Hamat´sa and Hiligaxste’ cutouts and regalia.

Print the dolls on card stock and the regalia can be printed on paper. The Hamat´sa is wearing his cedar bark regalia. What colour is his regalia? (always red) Have the students colour in the regalia, you will want to look at the video clips Potlatch Means to Give, and see the dancers in their regalia to get ideas of how to colour the Hiligaxste’ regalia; button blanket, headpiece and dance apron.