This geocache is part of the Gold Country GeoTour – The Prequel: Be A Guest. This GeoTour focuses on a step back in time to learn about before the Gold Rush ensued: languages of the region’s culturally diverse families, handed down traditions such as recipes, flora and fauna, historic sites of significance, and points of interest. These stories will help preserve the oral languages and traditions of the region as well as assist in educating visitors and locals alike to the cultural diversity and environmental sensitivity of the region.
The Story Tellers & Knowledge Keepers
As you stand here overlooking the valley and see the railway lines running above the banks of the river and the highway just behind you, imagine transcending time to when they were not a part of this landscape. A time when the Secwépemc families along with the St’at’imc, Nlaka’pamux and Sylix nations were the only people in this region of BC. A time preceding David Thompson and Simon Fraser, the gold rush and the Overlanders. A time when the only sounds were the cries of the eagles over head, the beating of the drums, and songs of the people that carried across the valley, and hills. The sweet scent of sage drifting on the breeze, and the silver glint of groups of Salmon (Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink) making their way to their home waters to continue the cycle that generations before them also did. The long swim from the ocean to their home streams where another generation would hatch and make the journey back to the ocean creating a continuous cycle. The families who lived along the riverbanks, and hills in lodges made of reeds and boughs would come down familiar paths to catch these fish and prepare them to be stored for meals in the winter months when they moved their families into the under-ground pit-houses (Kekuli) for the colder weather. The fish were caught with nets, lines or speared. They were smoked or air-dried on racks. Salmon would be flaked and ground between stones, then packed into woven baskets and lined with smoked salmon skins. They could be kept for years this way.
Deer and bear that ventured along the grass hills would be hunted, and then skillfully turned into food, clothing, drums, and tools. Thanks to the deer, the salmon, and bear would be given through ancestral songs. These songs passed down from generation to generation. Children could be heard laughing and playing along side their mother’s as they gathered berries to dry and make nutritious meals from. The children were taught these life skills of gathering, hunting, weaving, fishing, and building protective homes from their Elders. Specific traditional designs in jewellery made with fish bones and quills, basket weaving designs and tattooing designs of the family were also shown and taught to the youth. Elder story keepers shared the tales and songs of past elders with the young who would memorize them and then eventually share them to their own descendants. Time marked by the sun setting and rising and moon going from full to cresting completing a cycle and marking the passing of seasons. The songs and stories existing from time immemorial shared under a canopy of stars with the watchful eyes of the coyotes whose own songs could be heard echoing off the mountains upon them.
As you look across the land you can see the layers from the passing of centuries and movement of water, ice, and sand had encapsulated creatures, flora and fauna that were here thousands of years ago. Fossilized reminders and markers of where the ice moved around 11,000 BCE (before the common era). Migration of the Nlaka'pamux and Secwépemc by the ancestors is thought to have begun then. Their territory was vast from what is now known as the Columbia River to the Fraser River and Arrow Lakes. Approximately 145, 000 square km’s in size. The people moved along the river, and shores through out the land gathering for celebrations and for trading items needed. They looked after the land, the animals, plants and all in it, and understood the importance of taking care of these precious resources for themselves and future generations. This knowledge shared through story telling and song.
As you carry on your journey be mindful to also protect and cherish this beautiful life-giving land. Remember to always pack out what you pack in, leave no trace of your visit and be respectful to nature these surroundings. Safe travels.
Teit Times ISSN No 1198-4309 Summer, 1995 Vol 1
TRousseau, Mike (Autumn 1993). "Early Prehistoric Occupation of South-Central British Columbia". BC Studies. University of British Columbia. 99. ISSN 0005-2949.
Pg 6 The Simpcw of the North Thompson – British Coloumbia Historical News Volume 35, N0 3 Summer 2002
Pg 8 British Columbia History – Volume 52 N01 Spring 2019 Secwepemc People, Land and Laws: Yeri7 re Stsq’ey’s – kucw Marianne Ignace and Chief Ronald Ignace.
Traditions of the Thompson River Indians of British Columbia by James Teit 1898