SWAN, Luke Francis




Author Tags: Aboriginal Authors

As a commercial fisherman, David William Ellis became acquainted with Aboriginal elders Luke Swan of Ahousat and Solomon Wilson of Skidegate and recorded their memories and knowledge of how Aboriginals have used the intertidal zones. Ellis subsequently co-authored Teachings of the Tides: Uses of Marine Invertebrates by the Manhousat People (1981) with Luke Francis Swan, also known as Tl’itl’iits-sulh, meaning “arrow in the eye.” George Louie Sr. of Victoria served as a liaison between Ellis and Swan, who began sharing information on their subject in 1974. Wayne Campbell and Nancy J. Turner provided assistance with scientific identification of species. Born in 1893, Luke Swan was still fishing and being asked to sing and compose songs for potlatches in 1981, the year Teachings of the Tides became one of the first four titles from Theytus Books. It concludes with a brief chapter on supernatural creatures or sea serpents: “Mr. Swan’s father came upon one when he and another man were hunting for sea otter near Hesquiat Point. He shot an arrow at it, but missed…. Mr. Swan’s father watched the beast crawl onto a beach and disappear into the forest. If he had succeeded in killing it, he would have become a very great man, for nobody ever killed a sea serpent on the west coast of Vancouver Island.”

BOOKS:

Swan, Luke Francis & David Ellis. Teachings of the Tides: Uses of Marine Invertebrates by the Manhousat People (Nanaimo: Theytus, 1981).

[BCBW 2005]