Do not imagine this post will have many responses but...Has anyone checked out the new Canadian 20 dollar bill.Very wooden caone related Has all the West coast totem folk paddling a huge cedar dugout.Nice job!
The canoe sculpture pictured on the $20 bill is "The Spirit of Haida Gwaii" by Bill Reid. It was commissioned for the opening of a new Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Here's a description of what is depicted and some of the meaning;
"Perched at the stem, holding the steering oar, is the Raven, who is the trickster of the Northwest Coast and the principal figure in countless Haida stories. Crouched under his tail is the Mouse Woman, the traditional guide and advisor of those who travel from the human world to the nonhuman realms of Haida myth.
In the bow of the boat, facing astern, is the Grizzly Bear. Near him, facing forward and paddling on the port side, is his human wife, the Bear Mother. Stories of the Woman Who Married the Bear, like stories of the Raven, are told not only in Haida Gwaii but in almost every native community in the Canadian subarctic and along the Northwest Coast. Between the Bear and his human wife are two other characters important in these stories: their children, the Two Cubs. Reid calls them Good Bear and Bad Bear, alluding not to Haida myth but to a children's poem by A.A. Milne. (They are easily distinguished: Bad Bear's ears point back and Good Bear's forward.)
Behind the Bear Mother is the Beaver. He is one of Canada's national symbols now, but in Haida mythology he is one of the Raven's uncles, who in the early days of the world lived on the floor of the sea hoarding all the fresh water and fish in the world. Behind him is the Dogfish Woman, a shape-changing creature who is part human and part shark.
Across from the Bear Mother, on the starboard side, is the Eagle. Beneath him, perched on the gunwale, is the Frog. Arched across the centre of things is the Wolf, with his claws in the Beaver's back and his teeth in the Eagle's wing. Behind the shoulders of the Wolf and beneath the Raven's massive head is a human paddler whom Reid calls the Ancient Reluctant Conscript. And at the centre of this menagerie stands another human being: the shaman, the chief, whose title in Haida is Kilstlaai. The robe he wears and the staff in his hand — a sculpture-within-a-sculpture, portraying the Seabear, the Raven and the Killer Whale — allude to further stories central to the Haida view of the world. Apart from their importance in Haida mythology, many of these figures are crucial to Haida heraldry as well. Raven and Eagle, for instance, are emblems of the two halves or sides of the Haida social order. And the Wolf is a crest of Reid's own family or clan, the Qqaadasghu Qiighawaai of the Raven side.
The figures carved on Haida totem poles are often chosen for mythological reasons, often for heraldic ones. On some poles, the figures function in both terms at once. The same complexity of myth and social symbolism is evidently at work here in The Spirit of Haida Gwaii.
The canoe contains both Raven and Eagle, women and men, a rich man and a poorer man, and animals as well as human beings. Is it fair, then, to see in it an image not only of one culture but of the entire family of living things? Not all is peace and contentment in this crowded boat. There are nervous faces and tempers running high. But whatever their differences, they are paddling together, in one boat, headed in one direction. Wherever their journey takes them, let us wish them luck."