Also spelled “Dzunukwa” or “Tsonokwa” is a giantess in the mythology of Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, who live in the Pacific Northwest, mainly on the BC coast, Northern Vancouver Island, and the Queen Charlotte Sound.
D’Sonoqua was seen as a bringer of wealth worthy of respect and veneration, but also had a dark side, and was known to stuff children into her basket, to be carried away to her caves and eaten. She has a terrifying call, a “Hu!” or “Oo-oo-oo-oeo!”, which can be easily mistaken for the sound of the wind rustling through the cedar trees. The renown of her voice is such that images of her nearly always show pursed red lips, eternally calling out.
The above image of D’Sonoqua is by Emily Carr, that great artist of my home, Vancouver Island. She was a tremendous admirer of First Peoples’ art, and a ferocious critic of the missionaries and politicians who sought to displace our elder brothers and sisters on this continent.
Dzunukwa was both a powerful ally and a fearsome foe if you should cross their path.
One thing I feel an obligation to point out whenever I see anything relating to the Kwakwaka’wakw is that they are a living culture. Often they are portrayed as being lost or dead in museums, but they, like the other First Nations of Canada, have refused to be kept down, often despite society and the Canadian Government’s attempts. While I am not of First Nation decent, the art and religion of the Kwakwaka’wakw has spoken to me since a very young age, and I it was instrumental in my development into the person I am today. I was very lucky to have the privilege to visit U’mista Cultural Centre this summer, which is the current repository of Kwakwaka’wakw culture, as well as visit many of the ancient village sites along the west cost. I would suggest everyone visit the centre, especially if you are interested in other people, cultures, religions, and mythology. You will leave both inspired and humbled by the stories of a people who fought for their rights to have their culture recognized and respected.
Please take a second to reblog this post so that more people can learn the the incredible story of U’mista and the Kwakwaka’wakw who struggled to restore their cultural history.