Stein Valley Asking Rock - 060401
Stein Valley Nlaka'pamux Heritage Provincial Park was officially protected in 1995 and is jointly managed by the Lytton First Nation and B.C. Parks. The name "Stein" comes from the Nlaka'pamux word "Stagyn", which means "hidden place".
The lower Stein Valley is the home of physical and cultural remains of the heritage of the Nlaka'pamux, (commonly called “The Thompson”) First Nation people of Interior Salish ethnicity in southern British Columbia. The Birthing Rock at the entrance to the Stein Valley belongs to these people. It has long been a source of intrigue and has elicited feelings of emotion and empathy for lives lived for hundreds of years in this beautiful valley.
You will find the birthing rock by starting at the parking lot trailhead. Hike for only a few minutes down a hillside trail and across a rustic bridge to the Stein River. To your left is a large rock with two cradle-like hollows, large enough for a person to lie. Native women would line the stone ledges with soft fir boughs and give birth to their children in this sacred place. The babies would be baptized in the frigid waters of Stryen Creek.
The birthing rock is often referred to as the “Asking Rock.” First Nations people would stop and ask the spirits for permission to enter the Stein Valley. They would also ask for safe travels and for good weather. If you look closely, you will observe faded rock paintings made by the Nlaka'pamux at special locations. These paintings are said to possess spiritual powers. Most of these are found on cliffs or boulders at the base of the broken-rock covered slopes beside the aboriginal trail that follows the river through the mountains.
The paint used to create these images was made from red ochre, mixed with burned tamarack pitch and saliva. Red ochre is a dye made from the naturally tinted clay found in this area. The red color symbolized life, luck and goodness. Remember not to disturb the offerings to the spirits that you will find throughout this area. Traditional offerings were burnt sage and tobacco; however, today the offerings range greatly.