In the beginning of the book, â€œI Heard the Owl Call My Nameâ€, the reader finds a vicar named Mark is dying from an unknown illness. With less than two years left to live, the Bishop decides to send him off to Kingcome, his â€œhardest parish,â€ not telling him about his ever - approaching death, but rather sending him there to learn and except it through this Indian tribe. Obeying the Bishopâ€™s wishes and getting some helpful tips from the former Kingcome vicar named Caleb, Mark is able to begin his journey by canoe to British Columbia. The long journey allows him to acquaint himself with Jim, a young Indian boy, who is his guide to the village. Following Jim around the village and listening closely to his talks, Mark becomes aware of some Indian customs, life styles and history.
This is how Mark finds out about the legend of the Indian village, Quee (inside place), founded by Khawadelugha, one of the two brothers, the only humans left alive on Earth. He also learns about the â€œtotem,â€ a sacred symbol of the Indians, represented by a wooden pole with carvings of symbolic characters: the Cedar man, the raven, the killer whale, the wolf etc. Symbols would vary from tribe to tribe and sometimes from totem to totem. Quee is today called Kingcome, and is a Christian village. From Jim, we also find out that the Indians feel at one with nature and its creatures: â€œThe river is the village, and the black white killer whalesâ€¦and the salmon. The village is a talking bird, the owl, which calls the name of the man who is going to die, and the silver-tipped grizzlyâ€¦and the little white speck that is the mountain goat on Whoop-Szo.
(Craven, 19) The symbolic totem that is located next to the church and also represents the village. Mark noticed that Jim carries â€sadness so deep that it seemed to stretch back into ancient mysteriesâ€ (13). The young Indian boy seemed to