Unidentified Mask of Hilamas Ned Alvin InnisImas or Ancestor Mask
Possibly an Imas Mask
When a Chief dies, his heir has a song composed that mentions all the feasts, Potlatches, names coppers broken and sold to give Potlatches. This song is sung when the heir takes the place of the dead Chief. This type of song is called salige’. When the salige’ is sung, a mask representing the Ancestor of the family comes in and this means that the deceased has become for example a Thunderbird, once again. The speaker will say, "Which way has he gone?" meaning whether to his father’s side or to his mother’s side. Whichever mask is shown indicates which "way" he has gone to. After this, in the night the son will have a Winter Dance songs and dances just for one night. This is to show that the dead Chief has left all his dances to his son. This is called k̕ałaliła "to shake off sorrow". (The son wouldn’t mix T̕sit̕seka Winter Dances and Dłuwalaxa (Tła’sala Peace Dances), he would use one or the other even though he had both).
Charles Nowell’s notes by Phillip Drucker
The Imas is the symbolic representation of a high-ranked person who has passed on and returns one last at a memorial potlatch to pass on the rights and privileges of the deceased. Only nobility has the right to show this sacred ceremony. The Imas that appears is the first ancestral being that appeared after the Great Flood. When the Imas enters into the Big House, the attendants would spread mountain goat furs on the floor for the Imas to step on. Afterwards, they would give the mountain goat furs to the Chiefs, one pelt each. The Imas dances in as the singers softly sing. If the deceased was a Hamat̕sa in life, he would return as a Hamat̕sa. The speaker announces that he is the same in death as he was in life. The attendants announce that the person has come back to see his family just one more time - that he is the same during death as he was in life, referring to his supernatural side. This ceremony is very sacred and wasn’t seen often in earlier times.
"Paddling to Where I Stand, Agnes Alfred, Kwikwasut̕inuxw Noblewoman"
, by Daisy Sewid-Smith