Artist Statement: How Eagle Got His Eyes
" It is said amongst the Kwakwaka'wakw that long ago there was a tribe that was constantly being raided by other tribes. Frustrated, the Chief called the Eagle and told him to go sit on a high tree and watch for coming canoes that might be on their way to raid their tribe. If he saw anyone coming, he was to signal the tribe so they could repel the attack.
The eagle did as he was told. He flew up to a tall tree and perched himself there. But, he had very bad eyes and couldn't see very far. He flew down to the forest floor trying to think of a solution. While he was pondering how to spot invading canoes with his poor eyesight, a very small and fast moving critter went past him.
"Hey!" Eagle shouted. "Come here!"
It was Slug.
"How do you move so fast around the forest?" asked Eagle.
"Oh. Well, I have very keen eyesight. That allows me to move very quickly", said Slug.
"Keen eyesight???" asked Eagle.
"Oh yes!" said Slug. "I can see a long ways away."
Eagle told Slug about the invaders and how the Chief asked him to keep watch.
"Do you think you could let me use your eyes for awhile? I really need to keep watch." asked Eagle.
"Well... okay," Slug said slowly. "But you have to promise you will give them back!"
"Oh yes!" said Eagle.
They switched eyes and Eagle flew back up to the tree top.
He could see further then he ever had. And as chance would have it, an invading canoe was making it's way towards his village. Eagle immediately alerted the Chief and tribe of the coming threat and when the invaders arrived, they were successfully fought back.
The Chief and tribe were very happy and Eagle had never been covered with such lavish praises.
Just then, Slug came by and asked Eagle to keep his promise and return his sharp eyes.
Eagle refused and flew away.
To this day, Slug moves slowly when he goes anywhere because of his poor eyesight. "
Chris Cook III, 2011
Northwest Coast (Kwakwaka'wakw)
Silver, 14k gold,
abalone, garnets, black onyx, canvas, suede leather, rabbit fur,
6" x 8" diameter
Eagle 5 1/2" x 5"
Medallions 1 1/2" diameter
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