The Story of Gunakadéit

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We recently got some rad snap back caps in, since this design has a longer cultural story we wanted to share it. Check it out:

Gunakadeit is both human and a creature of the sea.  

 The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshians believe that humans and animals are interrelated.  Humans can transform into animals and animals likewise into humans. 

 Long, long ago, young man was disdained by his mother-in-law as lazy. She criticized him for sleeping while others were working.   

 One day as he was walking along the shore, he saw a monstrous being arise from the sea.  He devised a method to catch the creature.  He was successful! He skinned the giant creature.  He then donned his skin and jumped into the sea.  He dove underwater to the home and village of the creature.  When he returned to land, he hid the skin.   

 He returned home to find famine had come to his homeland.  He went to the place where he had hid the skin.  He put it on and dove into the sea.  In the early morning, he returned to the village with one salmon.  The villagers were joyful.  The next day, he went out again and returned with two salmon; the following day with a seal and the next day with a whale. 

 His mother-in-law had convinced the villagers that she with her spiritual powers was bringing food to the village.  Only the young man’s wife was aware that it was her husband who was responsible.  He had told his wife that if the Raven cries in the morning before he returned it meant that he had died.  One morning she awoke to find that her husband had not returned.  She heard the cry of the Raven and rushed to the beach.  She found the sea creature dead on the shore.  The villagers learned that it was not the mother-in-law who was responsible for the food but rather the sea creature, Gunakadeit!

 Gunakadeit’s spirit returned to his home in the sea.  His wife could not overcome her grief.  Hearing her cries, Gunakadeit returned to bring her to his home in the sea.

 Good fortune comes to those who see Gunakadeit.    

-Draft digitized Gunakadéit design done by Crystal Worl

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