Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14
- Grade: 9
The extraordinary life story of Clayton Mack (1910-1993), a legendary hunting guide from the Nuxalk Nation (Bella Coola), is told in his own words. To Clayton Mack, who loved the wilderness and whose most precious memories were of the days when people got around without roads, told time without watches, and took planks from giant cedars without axes, the two most mysterious creatures on earth were grizzly bears and Q'umsciwas (white men) - from Crooked Jaw the Indian Agent to the rich and famous men who hired him to guide them on their trophy hunts.
"The tales are told by a natural storyteller, who as a child was carried as a prop in Native ceremonial dances, and who later found himself dining in Hollywood restaurants with California's most powerful people. His stories are wild and bawdy and funny and tragic, and they reach back through history. They are like native ritual dances, in that it's impossible to separate the magic from the realism: at the end, you will wonder what was real and what was dream. The arnazing thing is, it's all true. It's all true."
-Mark Hume, journalist for the Vancouver Sun, National Post and author of The Run of the River
About the authors
Harvey Thommasen,is a physician, researcher and naturalist whose previous books include Grizzlies and White Guys: The Stories of Clayton Mack, Bella Coola Man: More Stories of Clayton Mack and River of the Angry Moon with Mark Hume. Thommasen began taping Clayton Mack's stories during morning rounds at the Bella Coola Hospital. Thommasen makes his home in Bella Coola with his wife and two children.
Clayton Mack was born in 1910, at Nieumiamus Creek - "place of flies." He went to a residential school and worked as a logger, fisherman and a rancher before becoming a tracker and hunting guide. Descended from a long line of Bella Coola chiefs, he was a walking encyclopedia of tribal lore and wordsmanship. He spent 53 years on the BC central coast, guiding the rich and famous on trophy hunts that felled an estimated 300 grizzly bears. During this time, he also gained a reputation as one of the best storytellers in the province. He was flown to Hollywood in the sixties for a visit, where he mesmerized the California jet set with his hunting tales. In 1988, after suffering a stroke, he was moved into long-term care at the Bella Coola Hospital. He died in 1993.
Grizzlies & White Guys: The Stories of Clayton MackHere are the reminiscences of a Clayton Mack, Nuxalk (Bella Coola) Nation Chief, who made his living as a guide for grizzly bear hunters. The stories are taken verbatim from tape recorded sessions with Dr. Harvey Thommasen, his family physician, while Mack was in hospital. The book is intended to preserve the oral history of a Canadian Aboriginal man. These unromanticized accounts of hunting, the Northern forests and Aboriginal life tell of a wilderness that was disappearing then, and is now largely gone, as are many of the attitudes portrayed. Indeed the ambitions of the trophy hunter of that era to kill the largest animal, or the taking satisfaction in the painful death of animals would be considered offensive by many today. One chapter offers insights into the Sasquatch from an Aboriginal perspective.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2008-2009.