The concept for Gawa Gyani was developed through a two year process of discussion with Gitk’san artist and writer, Doreen Jensen, the director of the Museum of Anthropology Michael Ames, and Karen Jamieson. Alice Jeffrey (Gitk’san) and Evan Adams (Coast Salish) contributed to the process, providing consultation, songs and dances.
"Sometime during our discussion, I told Karen about an ancient and still used method of Gitk'san government. When there are differences and conflicts the two sides would be called in to discuss these differences in neutral territory for just resolution. This ancient system is called 'gawa gyani' ”
- Doreen jensen
The performance Gawa Gyani was created in 1991 through a process of collaboration between Karen Jamieson and Chief Kenneth Harris (Hagbegwatku,) hereditary chief of the Fireweed clan of the Gitksan Nation. With contributions from Margaret Harris, the Dag’m Haast Dance Group, company dancers and guest artists.
“Gawa Gyani is the most esteemed Noxnox in the house of Go’onu (Godfrey Good). The title is presently held by Edgar Good- younger brother of Go’onu. Gawa Gyani has never been used nor has it been permissible to allow strangers to use this title. However, because of a very high regard that we have for our grandson, Haxbagwootxw, (Ken Harris) Go’onu wil make an exception and will allow Ken to use the title Gawa Gyani with his story Sc’a waa”
The forgoing statement was recorded on a cassette tape Tuesday, May 21,1991 at Kitwancol, B.C. by Chief Ken Harris (Hagbewegathu).
"The work comes at you in a non-narrative torrent of images of remarkable emotional impact. Wielding sound, story and movement like so much paint, Jamieson and her collaborators flood the museum space with brilliant, whirling, rich-colored images of idea, event and adventure. The exultant, swirling conclusion, which celebrates each participant equally, leaves you reassured, satisfied ...filled with hope."
The Vancouver Province
"The performance was developed through discussions between Gitk'san artist ... Doreen Jensen, Museum of Anthropology director Dr. Michael Ames and Jamieson beginning about three years ago.... The impulse behind the collaboration is to examine how showing artistic traditions can provide a way for the meeting and understanding of cultures."
The Vancouver Courier