What Speaks to You


Geswanouth Slahoot’s THE BEAUTY OF TREES

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dewdrops on the flower,
speaks to me.

The strength of fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.

And my heart soars.

Geswanouth Slahoot (Chief Dan George) was born July 24, 1899 in North Vancouver, British Columbia. He was a man of many talents, especially after the age of 50: Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation: “The People of the Inlet”; an actor, an author, a poet and most of all a human being.

As a young man, born on Burrard Indian Reserve No. 3 to a tribal chief, he entered the mission school. Sadly, mission schools sought to eradicate the heritage and especially the language of the children who attended.

Taking his beautiful name Geswanouth Slahoot, it was changed to Dan Slaholt which was more in keeping with English. At the mission school Slaholt was dropped, and the name George was used.

After he grew to a young man, he did an assortment of jobs in construction, longshoreman, logger, school bus driver, musician, etc. In 1951 he became Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

In 1960 he auditioned for a role on Cariboo County, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television show. His major break came in 1970 at age 70 playing Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man. He was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for this role.

On September 23, 1981 Geswanouth Slahoot passed to his eternal rest on the same Burrard Indian Reserve on which he was born in 1899. I am sure in the cosmic ocean his heart soars as well as his song.

The lesson from Geswanouth Slahoot’s life is that no matter where you are born, you can soar to that life which never goes away. Age is not a barrier to achievement.

G. D. Williams © 2015

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Chief Dan George






Tsleil-Waututh Nation: “The People of the Inlet”