The coastal Indians of British Columbia and Alaska were a maritime people who travelled, hunted and fished on the sea. The Natives retained a memory of a mythological time before all creatures became distinct and separate, where men and animals were kindred spirits. This kinship with the natural world was kept alive through art and ritual, and common ancestry was proclaimed with family crests.
Killer Whales -- Orcinus orca -- were another resident of the coast who travelled and hunted together in social units. Long misunderstood and feared by humans, these animals have been found to be highly social, intelligent and even gentle creatures in captivity.
Native encounters with Killer Whales must have been common. They frequented all of the same waters and harvested the same resources.
Pictured is a Northern-style Haida travelling canoe painted with a Killer Whale crest of Kwakwaka'wakw design.