Speaker Mask of Charlie WalkusHayak̕ant̕alałamł "Speaker Mask"
A Chief hosting a Potlatch will hire a speaker to talk on his behalf. It is against Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw protocol for people to brag about their own accomplishments. We are taught that if a Chief has earned the respect of his people, they will proudly speak of his greatness. In ancient times, a speaker would wear a mask representing an ancestral figure with the hereditary role of speaking publicly. These masks were painted with ancient designs indicating the tribe, clan and position of that speaker. These speakers were often closely connected to the Chief’s family history and the right to wear such masks usually began when the Chief’s Ancestor first began to Potlatch and distribute property. In earlier times, their were even spectator masks which represented supernatural guests that came to witness and would also make speeches at appropriate times to thank and praise the hosts generosity and accomplishments. These guests were also derived from the history of the Chief and his family.
Today, the use of Speaker masks is not being performed, however, the strong speeches of eloquent speakers is still followed. The hosting Chief will hire months in advance a speaker who will orate to the guests the history the Chief’s family. These speakers occasionally wear paint that bears the same motifs of the once donned Speaker Masks.
The Speaker Masks in the collection consistently have open mouths carved to allow for speeches to be spoken through. They are painted with designs that are used to identify a speaker in his hereditary role. Especially mask UCC-80.01.040, which has two hands facing outward on top of the mouth as if amplifying the speakers voice.
Our research indicates that:
The "Speaker" Masks in the Potlatch Collection are listed as belonging to:
K̕wamxudi UCC-80.01.026, UCC-80.01.040