"S'ólh Téméxw te íkw'élò.
Xólhmet te mexw’ stám ít kwelát."
"This is our land.
We have to take care of everything that belongs to us."
Knowledge Is for Everybody
Náxáxalhts’i, Dr. Albert “Sonny” McHalsie
Stó:lō culture emphasises the value of knowing one’s history – the stories of one’s ancestors. Sxwōxwiyám (origin stories) and sqwélqwel (true news, family history) are two ways through which we are taught. The story of Xáy:tem is an important sxwōxwiyám because it shows that we teach and learn by sharing. We maintain our oral traditions, but those chiefs were taught to write by Xe:xá:ls, and told to teach the people. That sxwōxwiyám makes it clear that writing is a legitimate way to preserve our culture. Books, and video and audio recordings are now also used to document our knowledge of the past, and websites are an extension of that.
Elder Rosaleen George said that everything about our history and culture should be shared, otherwise, how are our grandchildren going to learn if we do not tell them everything? Elders reach a time in their lives when the realize they need to share, or their knowledge will be lost. Elizabeth Herrling said you can be the smartest person, but if you don’t share your knowledge then it means nothing.
Of course, there are certain things that are kept private, and there are protocols about how traditional knowledge can be taught. There are things that people will not speak about - "private knowledge" that is kept only within their own family or community, but they will share other aspects of their knowledge with everyone. Too often in the past others have taken our knowledge from us and used it without our consent, and never returned any knowledge back. Today we ask that people give credit to those from whom they have learned,
and that we maintain our control over the way our knowledge is distributed.
Sqwélqwel means “true news, family history.” These are all stories about places and resources that our ancestors used and gathered. Once we return to these places, we are obligated to take care of them. We say, "S'ólh Téméxw te íkw'élò. Xólhmet te mexw’ stám ít kwelát." (This is our land. We have to take care of everything that belongs to us.)
We are guided by our Elders and the lessons embedded in our language. Tómiyeqw is a word that translates as both great great-great-great grandparent AND great great-great-great grandchild. Tómiyeqw teaches the principle that we must weigh everything we do today to ensure that we respect and carry the teachings of our ancestors from seven generations ago, while simultaneously accounting for the needs of our descendants seven generations into the future. There is much that has been lost, and plenty that needs to come back. This website is a digital way to repatriate the history of where Stó:lō traditional and contemporary foodways practices have come from, and prepare for where they are going. It is also a tool to teach our youth and others about our culture and history.
The purpose of this website is to educate people. Both my great-grandfather, Dennis Peters, and my uncle, Peter Dennis Peters, talked about the importance of education. I believe that sharing and educating one another is a step in creating understanding. And, it is from that understanding we can build respectful relationships. I see this website as a part of accomplishing that. Sharing and education override everything – knowledge is for everybody.