Header - Thunder Bird Park

Title - Late Park

Wawadiťła, The Mungo Martin House
Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwagu’ł), 1953
Carvers: Mungo Martin and David Martin, assisted by Robert J. Wallace (Carpenter)
Based on: Chief Nakapīankam’s house in Tsaxis (Fort Rupert)

Wawadi??a and totem poleThunderbird Park, 1977. Andrew Niemann photograph. RBCM PN 13195-10.


The house in Thunderbird Park is a smaller version of a famous house that once stood in the Kwagu’ł village of Tsaxis (Fort Rupert) on the north-eastern coast of Vancouver Island. The house was the ancestral property of Chief Nakapīankam. Mungo Martin was born in Tsaxis and inherited both the chiefly name and the right to build the house and display its carvings. The name Nakapīankam can be translated as ‘ten times a chief’ and refers to the chief's greatness and abundant wealth. The house is named Wawadiťła, meaning ‘he orders them to come inside,’ indicating that the owner is so powerful that he can order anyone to come into his house and be his servant.

Great House in Gwa’yasdamsGwa’yasdams, 1900. Charles F. Newcombe photograph. RBCM PN 235.
Although the version of Wawadiťła in Thunderbird Park is less than half the size of the great house at Tsaxis and has modern features such as concealed structural steel supports, the style of construction of the original was faithfully copied. Adzed cedar wall and roof planks are attached to a massive framework of carefully finished logs. A smoke hole in the roof allows smoke to escape from the fire that burns in the central hearth when the house is in use.

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