Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw (Kwakiutl) canoe and Sisiutl (below).
is one of the most powerful creatures in the belief system of the
Kwakiutl, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, Squamish, Nuxalkmc and other Pacific Northwest
Coast Indigenous Peoples. Sisiutl is the god of warrior invincibility, a
war canoe that can travel underground (Winalagalis) and guardian of the
house of the sky people.
Sisiutl is frequently depicted as a
two headed serpent with a humanoid head and hands in the middle of the
body. The head is surmounted by ‘horns of power’ which are also found on
The Sisiutl could shapeshift from its human form into many others such
as the canoe of Winalagalis, salmon, a woodworm and into a massive size.
As a transformative creature of vast shamanic power, the Sisiutl could
travel in and across all boundaries (worlds): land, water, & air.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/Quetico is a vast remote wilderness region along the Minnesota/Ontario border. It’s accessible only by non-motorized travel and taking my dog team into that region is always an incredible experience that affects me deeply and draws me back. It just feels separate from the rest of the world and returning to civilization after being there always seems strange. I can’t help but to compare it to the idea of a “liminal space.”