SISIUTL (Font is AuntJudy)
The internet has been a great source of information on Sisiutl. Here is a selection of the most significant items I found:
A dramatic supernatural creature, the double headed Sea Serpent is one of the most high ranking crests in Kwagiulth culture. Its power possesses it to shift shape and transform from animal to man at anytime. As well, a Sisiutl can change itself in to a self-propeled canoe which the owner must feed with Seals. Touching the serpent or even looking at it, or a glance from it, can cause death. Legends say Shamans tried to kill the Sisiutl for its healing power and magic. It\rquote s closely assocated with war and strength, death and revival, so warriors try to kill it to rub its blood on themselves to attain its skillful strength and become invulnerable. A warrior would often wear a head band or belt in the image of a Sisiutl to provide protection from harm.
Flakes of shiny mica found on beaches were thought to be the discarded scales from the serpent\rquote s body. Whether carved or painted, the Sisiutl is depicted with a profile head, teeth and a large curled tongue at each end of its serpetine form and in the centr e is a human head. Fins run along its back and curled appendages or horns rise from all three heads. The painted body represents scales and it may be carved horizontally, formed into a U-shape or coiled into a circle.
Sisiutl guarded the entrance to the homes of the supernatural. It was painted on the sides of canoes and hung over doorways to protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.
A snake-spirit of the water in the Pacific coast region of North America.
The Wasgo or Sisiutl: A Cryptozoological Sea-Animal of the Pacific Northwest Coast of the Americas
Michael D. Swords, Western Michigan University, Department of General Studies, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Various lines of soft evidence converge upon the tentative conclusion that an unclassified sea-animal of significant size is living, or at least recently lived, in the ocean waters of British Columbia. This animal has had several names within the various Amerindian cultures of that area, and has had a history among them for many centuries. The animal species may be identical or similar to other reported or historically pictured creatures worldwide.
MYTHOLOGY, PETROGLYPHS AND VIKING INDICATORS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
It seems likely that if the Vikings had indeed passed through the Pacific Northwest the impact of Viking ships might well have left an indelible impression. How would they have been perceived? Remember, these were the "Dragon Ships" with imposing dragon or serpentine figureheads, often on prow and stern; easily misunderstood as two-headed sea-monsters by the uninformed. Then there would be the effect of the oars on either side of the ship - quite a departure from local canoe paddling arrangements, here with a predominantly horizontal motion rather than a vertical one, thus almost "crab-like" in shallow waters. Furthermore, Vikings coming ashore in a po tentially hostile situation might well have used time-tested procedures - no "slack" marines here (if they wanted to get back on the boat, that is). In other words, they would most likely have come ashore behind their shields with speed and efficiency or pay the price. At which point we may now examine some of the more unusual Pacific Northwest maritime myths described by Joseph F. Wherry
The Sisiutl, the two-headed serpent of the Kwakiutl, was a supernatural creature said, in the lore of the British Columbia coast and Vancouver Island, to be four feet in diameter and up to twenty feet long. At times it was in league with Thunderbird and made thunder and lightning. Its 'house" was either on land or in water. The body had an identical head at each end, with a human face, implying soul power, midway between. Almost always causing death when encountered, it was all the more dangerous because it could shrink itself to a tiny fraction of its true length.
In particular, the Supreme Court of Canada\rquote s 1997 decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia infused greater flexibility into the law of aboriginal rights. Case law now suggests three general legal requirements exist for a successful novel claim under s. 35(1). In light of these requirements, this paper argues that aboriginal peoples in Canada have constitutional grounds to seek recognition of their customary intellectual property rights regarding crests, songs, dances, etc. For example, in accordance with the potlatch system of governance, it is arguable that members of the Mamalilikala nation of the Kwakwak'wakw could successfully claim an aboriginal right to exclusively use the Sisiutl and Sun crest.
The Pacific Northwest of the United States and southwestern Canada is possibly home to a creature more bizarre than the area's most famous inhabitant, Bigfoot. If Indian tales are to be believed, the waters near British Columbia are home to a creature they called sea wolf, sisiutl, wasgo, haietlik, or any of several other names; this creature is unique among cryptids by having been a totem animal of several tribes, an honor shared only with the thunderbird. Several native representations of the creature have been retrieved; all depict a long, serpentine animal with small forelimbs and a doglike or crocodilian head. A vivid description of the monster appears in an Indian legend. Shortly the water of the lake began to churn, and the head and finned for elegs of the Sea-Wolf, which some call the Wasgo, appeared near the surface. As the huge beast rose through the open trap, snapping at the bait...the split cedar snapped shut on the monster, breaking its back. In spite of this injury, the Sea-Wolf snarled and pawed and thrashed. The Kwakiutl tribe, who lived on the British Columbian coast north of the present city of Bella Coola specified that sisiutl was an animal that was "of the earth", not one of the mythical creatures of the sea; this distinctly shows that the Pacific Northwest tribes were convinced of the animal's existence. As far north as Alaska, the Inuit (Eskimos) spoke of the tirichik, mauraa, nikaseenithulooyee, akhlut, or palraiyuk, a creature which seems analogous with the Sea-Wolf of further south, if not for its six legs. Roy P. Mackal sums up reports of Canadian lake serpents in Searching for Hidden Animals; the picture he ends up with is of a creature very much like the Sea-Wolf. He goes on to speculate that the lake monsters are actually a surviving populations of a type of primitive whale called a zeuglodon. Is the Sea-Wolf, too, a zeuglodon? As a final note, depictions of what may be the same animal as the Sea-Wolf have been found as far south as the Nazca Plain, in Peru. One of the famous "Nazca lines" depicts a whale-like sea monster, complete with two forelimbs, crocodilian snout, and large eyes.
A mythical two-headed sea serpent that guarded the entrance to the homes of the supernaturals, Sisiutl was believed to kill and eat anyone who saw it; washing in its blood turned a person to stone. Transformed into a self-propelled canoe that must be fed seals, this is a creature unique to Kwagiutl mythology.
Sisiutl is a mythical Kwakwaka'wakw creature. Awesome Sisiutl guarded the entrance to the houses of supernatural creatures. Sisiutl was frequently painted over the doorways of houses for protection. Sisiutl is always portrayed with a human face at the center of the body. From each side of the central head protrudes an appendix which terminates with a head at each end, traditionally a head in profile. All three heads share similar features. Each has a set of curl ing horns and large round nostrils. The face in the central position is more like that of a human, the eyes are rounded and the mouth shows full teeth which are sometimes pointed. The heads at the protruding ends are less like human heads and display a mo uth with well-defined canine teeth and a long tongue which protruding like that of the serpent.
Sisiutl is symbolic of wetness and fluidity representing at the same time tears, blood, sea, and rain. This fluidity also represents changes in life; death, decay and rebirth.
Sisiutl has the power to harm people who looked at it though he is most benevolent to those with the correct privileges.
A Sisiutl story: Thunderbird and his wife came down to start their own tribe. As a human male Thunderbird caught a strange looking salmon which died only when Thunderbird bit his own tongue and spat blood at the creature. At that time he recognized the creature as Sisiutl . His wife thanked him for the gift of Sisiutl which she cut in half, bathing their newborn son in Sis iutl's blood. As a result, the child grow quickly into a giant man with a pursed mouth, who appeared made of stone. The parents were pleased as a child would be a great warrior. When the child became the man he received a special death-bringing canoe with which he could fight with the world. Each end of the canoe had a serpent head with a protruding tongue. At the center of the canoe was the head of the man. The canoe would propel itself when given navigational directions and would bring wealth, prerogati ves and slaves. Thus, Sisiutl is associated for this reason with Warriors.