Your ancestors were Native Americans. Please tell us a little about you and what you do as a group.
George Taylor is the founder of the “Le-La-La Dancers”. He comes from the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation of Vancouver Island and grew up in the Namgis Reserve in Alert Bay, British Columbia, Canada. His parents came from chieftain families. He was taught by his father in most areas of his nation’s traditional history and culture.
After graduating in social work, George Taylor moved to Victoria in 1976 to become a social worker for several First Nations’ groups. Under the leadership of elders and chiefs, the Le-La-La Dancers Society was founded in 1987. Since then, George has dedicated himself with much hard work and dedication to developing and leading a traditional performance group.
The number of tribes is not small. What is special about the Kwakwaka’wakw?
The Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWOK-wok-ya-wokw) have built a rich culture that reflects and recognizes our natural environment. Our songs, stories, dances and ceremonial objects honor the animals, rivers, cedar trees, salmon and all the things that contribute to the physical and spiritual preservation of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
There are many books about the life of the Native Americans. What cultural traditions do you still cultivate today?
Many people believe that a rich and powerful person is someone who owns a lot. The Kwak´wala see it differently: a rich and powerful person is someone who gives away the most. For a long time the Kwakwaka’wakw have been organizing potlatches. Even today this ceremony plays a central and connecting role in community life. The word “Potlatch” means “to give”. Guests who participate in this event receive gifts. The more gifts are given, the higher the Potlatch host’s status.
The Potlatch ceremony marks important events in the life of the Kwakwaka’wakw: the naming of children, marriage, transfer of rights and privileges, and mourning for the dead. It is a festival that shows all the pride of the tribe: Masks are worn and dances are performed. It is a great spectacle.