AGAIN CALLS THE OWL - Margaret Craven



Margaret Craven

Margaret Craven is the well-known author of the best-seller 'I Heard the Owl Call My Name' and in her autobiography 'Again Calls the Owl' she brings her idyllic childhood which suddenly vanishes, her battle with blindness and her trip to a magnificently wild Pacific Northwest, a town called Kingcome where she comes to know the Kwakiutl Indians.

Margaret Craven grows up with her twinbrother in Bellingham at the beginning of the 20th century and attends then school in Stanford. After her graduation she works for a morning paper, the San Jose Mercury Harald, as a secretary for the managing editor. After a while she is allowed to write her own column, signed with her initials 'M.C.' The managing editor, who everybody calls 'E.K.' teaches her a lot and Margaret can handle him even better than his own son and daughter. After 'E.K.' has died she moves to Palo Alto to learn to write stories. There she works hard and sends the best stories to the new managing editor of the Mercury Harald, who likes and publishes them.

When Margaret's father dies, Margaret isn't able to write stories for a while and so she visits her friend Florence with her husband Frank in Colorado, where they own a huge ranch. After she returns, her old editor, who has let her go to write and then has done everything to help her, takes sick and dies. A much younger man takes his place. Whenever she writes a really good column, he publishes it with his name. So she begins to write for the Post in 1941 after her removal to San Francisco with her mother. After an accident she has to carry out operations on both eyes which makes her nearly blind. After her twinbrother Wilson gets divorced she moves with him and her mother to Sacramento, where they buy a house. After her story 'Indian Outpost' on the basement of a talk with a friend of Wilson, Margaret wants to talk to some of the young Anglican priests, who work in Indian villages on the westcoast of Canada. So she comes to know Eric Powell, the authority on Indian villages and the vicar of the church in the paper mill town Kingcome, who expects her in Powell River in September to visit Kingcome. There she comes to know the Kwakiutl Indian village Tsawataineuk, where the Anglican Church is present, and old rites of the Indians like the hamatsa.

[] p. 103 I asked Ron, 'In the old, old days the terrible cannibal dance, the hamatsa, and the supernatural myths and magic were all fake, weren't they?

'Yes. Peter, who lived at the end of the village, knew that but his great-grandparents did not. It was very serious. If a man moved in the dances when he heard the hamatsa coming, he was killed. No one alive has ever seen the days when a body was taken from a grave tree and the hamatsa and cannibal dancer pretended to take a bite from the body[]'

Margaret Craven also learns about the growing up and the character of the Indians.

[] p.104 I never saw a child spanked or slapped. I never saw an impudent or rude child. The children were always wonderful to me, but the Indians I liked most of all were the young women. They were gentle, but strong. []

Of her experiences in Kingcome Margaret Craven writes the novel 'I Heard the Owl Call My Name' with which she has great success.

For years then Kingcome is deserted, because the tribe has crossed the bridge into the white man's world. The Indians settle at Alert Bay, at Campbell River and in Vancouver. Eric Powells work changes but he nevertheless continues to see the Indians.

One day Margaret has from Eric a phone call: slowly, the Indians are beginning to drift back to Kingcome.

[] p. 117 They have begun to realise that however well they do in the white man's world, nothing can replace their own deep roots that reach back so many hundreds of years. The culture has changed greatly, but it holds the deepest meaning of their lives. Loneliness has always been an element they know and they have lived in it superbly. The white man's culture can never take its place, nor can they ever become completely part of his.'