River of Wealth
Released April 2005
One of my favourite memories from childhood is sitting at the
kitchen table with my brothers and sisters when we would t’sapa.
The table was completely covered with newspaper and our sleeves
were rolled up past our elbows. We would take our salmon or our
boiled potatoes and proceed to dip them in a light golden coloured
oil. For the non-initiated, the scent from this oil can be overpowering
and, as in the case with my wife, induce gagging. The oil in the
Kwak’wala language is called Tli’na, or eulachon grease.
Tli’na is rendered from the eulachon, a fatty member of the
smelt family often called candlefish because it is said that due
to the high oil content of the fish one could light it like you
would a candle. It is removed from the fish through a lengthy—and
smelly—process of fermentation and boiling. Each family has
its own unique method passed down through the generations. The end
result is often referred to as “liquid gold” by those
who prize its taste and nutritional value.
In our culture, Tli’na is given away at special potlatches
and feasts. For those that give away large quantities of Eulachon
grease, their status amongst the tribes will increase. When my grandmother
was young, her father, Chief Charles Mountain Wilson of Fort Rupert,
gave away canoe loads of grease as shown in the photo above.
The return of the Eulachons to their special spawning grounds in
our inlets and rivers is truly a gift from the Creator. It is our
River of Wealth.
“River of Wealth” is a limited edition
print using the giclée method of printmaking. This print
was released in April of 2005 and printed by Andy Everson at the
artist’s own studio in Comox B.C. A total of 109 prints bear
the title “River of Wealth” and are signed by Andy Everson:
99 in the primary edition bearing the numbers 1/99 through 99/99;
9 Artist’s Proofs; and 1 Printer’s Proof. The acid-free
Moab Entrada 100% cotton rag paper measures 13x19 inches. Image
size measures about 9.5x17 inches.