REPORTING · 24th February 2011
As all native nations are slowly reviving their culture that was almosted eliminated during prohibition of the potlatch and their regalia, the Nisga'a are continuing in an astounding pace to reinvigorate their youngsters and elders alike. One can only feel proud, honored and touched to be part of such a celebration. You have a chance to witness one of these celebrations this weekend in Kincolith (Gingolx). Their Hobiyee celebration is a hopeful beginning to their new year of harvesting and preserving their native foods.
The Nisga'a have generously given me permission to publish some of their elders recollections of the Hobiyee of the past. I thank them respectfully, and wish to learn more in the future.
In a world that is so divided, I think it is time to learn about each other and try to include everyone in the understanding of cultural differences.
Below is an ongoing story of the celebration of Hobiyee and the schedule of Dancers at this years event.
The following information on Hoobiyee is based on various sources.
Sim'oogit Minee'eskw/(the late) Rod Robinson's recollections as shared by Sim'oogit Wii-Gadim Xsgaak/(the late) Eli Gosnell. This information was verified by the daughter of (late) Eli Gosnell, Sigidim-hanak' Hgluwilksihlgum Hlbin, Emma Nyce.
Incorporated as well, are other parts of information on Hoobiyee as shared with, and by Hlayim Wil/Chester Moore and information heard by Sim'oogit K'eexkw/Herbert Morven from Sim'oogit Hleek /Dr. Joseph Gosnell and confirmed by Sim'oogit Gakw'ihlheen/Hubert Doolan.
The month of BUXW-LAKS (February) is the beginning of the Nisga'a New Year.
This used to be the coldest part of the year in K'alii-Aksim Lisims - the Nass Valley.
The extreme cold weather makes the needles on the boughs of trees brittle, and is easily blown off and scattered about by gusts of wind, part of Nature's way of preparing the trees for the coming spring. This is the reason for our name for the month of February, Buxw-laks. (Buxw means "to blow away, on at (something/somebody), to be blown away (eg by the wind); laks are the "needles" of the coniferous trees).
Also in this time of freezing weather - when the snow tops on the ground were hardened by the cold - the food gatherers ... the hunters stored away their snowshoes after repairing them for the next winter season.
The Simgigat - Nisga'a Chieftains - in past centuries studied the celestial heavens. They were knowledgeable in the behaviors of the stars in proximity to the moon which forecasted the weather patterns. They studied astrology not from text books but by years of observing the heavens.
Another explanation adds that when the crescent moon is in the shape of a hoobix and it appears as if "a star is sitting in the centre of the crescent moon, ii luu-t'aahl bilist ahl ts'im hoobix" is a sign of abundance in Nisga'a culture.
Different positions of the stars around the moon also forecasts deaths and births, they say.
Hlayim Wil adds that the thin cresent moon is visible at nightfall... before it descends behind the mountain. In his time, the grandfathers kept watch of the February moon. As soon as the Hobiyee moon was sighted, throwing up their arms in the shape of the "hobiyee moon" the grandfathers would run out into the village, hollering, "Hobiyee! Hobiyee!" And always, the children would be right behind, copying the grandfathers.
Hlayim Wil witnessed this in the village of Gitwinksihlkw around 1940, when suddenly a loud voice would be heard outside, hollering, and immediately the village was in a commotion. A senior member in the Wilp of Baxk'ap had sighted the Hoobiyee moon and subsequently carried out the traditional act of informing the villagers.
Hobiyee is derived from the phrase, "Hoobixis hee!"
(The expression "hee or hoo," is uttered only by the male-folk, and if directly to an individual only to another male person. The meaning is similar for the expression in english, "hey," used to call attention to, or to express surprise or inquiry about something.)
Everybody! It is wooden spoonshaped!" Referring to the bowl of the spoon and meaning that "the bowl of the spoon is full."
The moon of hoobiyee indicating a good season for oolichan harvesting, and the seasons to follow, abundant riches to be obtained from our lands and rivers, was indeed, cause for great celebration.
Before he passed on, Sim'oogit Gitxhun, Paul Clayton, shared that the Nisga'a had a ceremony for the first feed of oolichan. He could not remember the song, only that it was called "Limx Wi'idim Saak." The performer donned a particular set of regalia especially on his arms while he danced and sang.
Hoobiyee is about the point in time when the gal-ha-ink/cedar bent boxes fo the Nisga'a are near empty of their winter provisions, and they have begun to ration the last of their provisions. The Nisga'a are hoping and praying for a bountiful season of oolichans... and a fruitful new year.
Schedule of Dances Program February 25th
12:30-1:00pm. NATHAN BARTON ELEMENTARY
1:00-1:30pm MORICETOWN ELEMENTARY
1:30-2:10pm GITLAX'DAX DANCERS
2:10-2:5Opm GITSEGUKLA DANCERS
2:50-3:30pm GITMAXMAK AY DANCERS
4:10-5:00pm KITIMAT DANCERS
5:00-6:30pm STAND-UP SMORGASBORD
6:30-7:30pm. HOBIYEE GRAND ENTRANCE (All groups)
7:30-8:10pm GITLAXDAMIX DANCERS.
8:10-8:50pm GITWINKSIHLKW DANCERS
8:5O-9:30pm KITKATLA DANCERS
9:3O-10:10pm LAXGALTS'AP DANCERS.
10:10-10:50pm PORT SIMPSON DANCERS
10:50-11:30pm GINGOLX CULTURAL DANCERS.
Day 2-February 26th Gingolx Hobiyee Celebration
10:00-l0:40am NATHAN BARTON ELEMENTARY
10:40-11:20am KITKATLA DANCERS
11:20-12noon PORT SIMPSON
12:00-1:00PM LUNCH BREAK
1:00-1:40pm GITANYOW DANCERS
1:40-2:20pm GITLAXDAX DANCERS
2:20-3:00pm KITIMAT DANCERS
3:00-3:40pm GITSEGLKLA DANCERS
3:40-4:20pm GITWINKSlHLKW DANCERS
4:20-5:00pm LAXGALTS'AP DANCERS
5:00-6:30pm HOBIYEE TRIBAL PICINIC
6:50-7:30pm GITINAXMAK'AY DANCERS
7:30- 8:10pm GITLAXDAMIX DANCERS
8:10-8:50pm GINGOLX DANCERS
8:50-10:30pm. GRAND FINALE ( all Groups)
HOBIYEE to all visitors,and Cultural Dancers fromsurrounding areas. THANK YOU FOR COMING TO GINGOLX to help celebrate our 2011 Hobiyee.
** HOBIYEE !! **
Vincent Lincoln, The Gingolx Owl Dancer