'wakw are ocean-going people who travel by canoe, and the most powerful forces of nature, the weather, controlled their moves. This dance honours the elements and displays the respect the weather is shown by our people.
Dance and Regalia:
Carved and painted wooden headdress, with cloth backing is worn like a visor on top of the head, rather than a mask that covers the dancers face. The headdress is almost birdlike in appearance.
In the Na
'nalala‡, the dancers move back and forth, in a sideways motion, in front of the singers. They cover and uncover their faces, indicating the break of dawn. The dancers are quick and graceful, never looking at each other yet passing closely and in time with the quick beat of the song. Along with the weather headpiece, the dancers wear white shawls that move gracefully as the dancers move quickly across the Gukwdzi floor.
The weather dance has mistakenly been called the "swan" dance because of the similarity between the words for weather or day ('nala) and swan ('na
la). Early anthropologists took a long time to decide the translation and they eventually went with wind dancer mask, since the words of the song have to do with the wind. Today it is either called the Weather Dance or is stated to represent the day; the Wind Dance is an altogether different dance.
Sam Charlie owned this mask. His daughter, Mary Beans requested the mask be transferred from the Nuyumbalees Society to the U'mista cultural society in 1979.