Dr. Erve: The Early Years
Dr. Con S. Erve, Canada’s leading anthropologist, first achieved notoriety for his studies of the Wo-Wo Tribe.
The Wo-Wo tribe was composed of 2,724 aboriginals who worshiped at a sacred “Ocean Beach” in northern Alberta.
No one knew that landlocked Alberta had any ocean beach until Dr. Erve found it.
Dr. Erve discovered that the Wo-Woes harvested fish from the Pacific Ocean. This was an astonishing accomplishment given that they lived over a thousand kilometres from the Pacific and had to traverse the Rocky Mountains (4,000 metres high) to reach their B.C. fishing grounds each week.
Dr. Erve proved the Wo-Woes were Canada’s first commuters.
The “inland” beach of the Wo-Woes was composed of sand that clung to their moccasins when they walked on the Pacific beaches.
Even though it was fairly sticky sand, there wasn’t much of it left after the Wo-Wo fishermen completed their thousand-kilometre commute home each Friday. (They would then return to the Pacific late Sunday morning.)
Dr. Erve calculated that it took over six millennia for the tribe to accumulate enough sand to create an inland beach. Although tiny (hardly the size of an average PGA sand trap), the beach united the primitive Wo-Wo.
The anthropologist made up a poem about the Wo-Wo and their beach: “The Wo-Woes imported an ocean beach/And prayed to their God, never out of reach.”
Using an all terrain vehicle, Dr. Erve tracked the Wo-Woes on their weekly commute. The Wo-Woes, who had never seen an internal combustion engine, prayed to their Beach God for such machines.
Like so many gods, the Beach God said “no way.”
The Wo-Woes, desperate to ride internal combustion engines, sold their wives and daughters into prostitution.
This generated sufficient money for ATV purchases; however, syphilis and other social diseases eradicated most of the women.
The Wo-Woes’ teeth fell out of their heads after Dr. Erve introduced them to chocolate bars. Dr. Erve distributed books on dental care to the tribe.
Unfortunately no Wo-Wo could read. (Dr. Erve said he did not want to overburden a primitive tribe with Western culture.)
In his award-winning documentary, Dr. Erve explained how the Wo-Woes fought over the few Wo-Wo women.
The media accused Dr. Erve of teaching the Wo-Woes how to use modern weapons. The anthropologist, who carried a Thompson machine gun on his ATV, swore in court that when he gave weapons to the Wo-Woes he made them promise to be sportsmen.
What with the killing and prostitution, the remaining toothless Wo-Woes abandoned fishing and within a year their sacred beach vanished.
(Local entrepreneurs had used all the sand in three-minute egg timers. The egg timers, along with Dr. Erve’s poem, became sought-after souvenirs that sold for many times the price of ATVs on eBay.)
Without their beach, the Wo-Woes had nothing to unite them, and no reason to live. They forsook their Beach God. Suicide soared.
Dr. Erve, awarded the Order of Canada, said the Wo-Woes’ demise was tragic.
Luckily, he said, future generations would be able to appreciate the Wo-Wo culture from his meticulous field notes and award-winning documentaries. He pointed out that the Wo-Wo sacred beach was preserved in three-minute egg timers.
Dr. Erve had been given the name Kikiii by tribal Wo-Wo chiefs. Kikiii means “educated white person.”
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