It is a strict law that bids us dance

Posted on February 1, 2011

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We want to know whether you have come to stop our dances and feasts, as the missionaries and agents who live among our neighbours try to do.

We do not want anybody here who will interfere with our customs.

We were told that a man-of-war would come if we should continue to as our grandfathers and great-grandfathers have done.  But we do not mind such words.

Is this the white man’s land?  We are told it is the Queen’s land; but no!  It is mine!  Where was the Queen when our God gave the land to my grandfather and told him, “This will be thine” ?  My father owned the land and was a mighty chief; now it is mine.

And when your man-of-war comes let him destroy our houses.  Do you see yon woods?  Do you see yon trees?  We shall cut them down and build new houses and live as our fathers did.

We will dance when our laws command us to dance, we will feast when our hearts desire to feast.  Do we ask the white man, “Do as the Indian does”?  No, we do not.  Why then do you ask us, “Do as the white man does”?

It is a strict law that bids us dance.  It is a strict law that bids us distribute our property among our friends and neighbours.  It is a good law.  Let the white man observe his law, we shall observe ours.

And now, if you are come to forbid us to dance, begone; if not, you will be welcome to us.

 

Chief O’wax̱a̱laga̱lis of the Kwagu’ł, greeting anthropologist Franz Boas, 1886.