A traditional food and source of medicine for our people has always been berries. In-SHUCK-ch would pick the wild berries along the river and in the alpines. Berries were usually eaten fresh, but were also steamed or boiled with other berries and dipped in grease. Some berries would be dried and made into cakes.
XÚSUM (SOAPBERRY) ICE-CREAM MAKING
Xúsum, commonly known as the Soapberry, was used to make juice or ice cream by whipping the berries with a whisk. Natural sugars from tree sap were used as the sweetener instead of refined sugar which we use today.
In the 1900s when fishermen from Japan and other countries were pushing Aboriginals out of fishing and the canneries, many In-SHUCK-ch travelled to the Fraser Valley in the summer and fall to pick berries and provide for their families.
The waterways of the Lillooet River-Harrison Lake system have always been our lifeblood. From the Western cedar that grew throughout our forests, we made seafaring dugout canoes. The canoe provided us with transportation to harvest salmon from our fishing stations, to gather medicines, to venture beyond our villages in the fall and winter to hunt, and to arrange intermarriages.
In 2016 we will be one of the five nations to host the sixteenth Annual Pulling Together Canoe Journey. Traveling along Lillooet and Harrison Lakes to the Fraser River, the canoe journey will start with a send-off in Mount Currie and will conclude with celebrations in Mission.
Touching the traditional territories of the Lil’wat, Samahquam, Skatin, Xa’xtsa, and Sts’ailes, the journey follows the original Harrison-Lillooet Gold Rush Trail, with stops in each of the host communities along the way and at historic Port Douglas. Closing festivities will be at Pekweyles (the site of the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School.)
The 25 canoes travelling on traditional waterways bring together First Nations youth and elders, communities, and neighbouring municipalities in an active display of unity, respect, and relationship building.
Cedar weaving is a traditional In-SHUCK-ch skill used to create baskets, clothing, and other useful items in our culture. The roots were dug out of the ground, stripped, and then split before they could be used. Cedar bark was peeled directly from the live tree during certain times of the year.
Siq’úta is a traditional dance accompanied by drumming and singing that has been practiced for generations by In-SHUCK-ch. An important aspect of siq’úta is the recognition ceremony, known as the Dancers Recognition and Standing Up ceremonies. During the ceremony, dancers are formally recognized by the community and earn the right to wear stem’tétem’ (the traditional dance clothing).
Our fishing stations were among the richest fisheries to harvest the salmon, which we ate fresh and preserved through wind-drying to have food through the winter months. Fishing has always been a valuable resource for the In-SHUCK-ch Nation and part of our culture, economy, and traditions in the form of food and a staple for trade with our neighboring nations.
Drumming is an integral part of In-SHUCK-ch culture which has been passed on through countless generations. A common phrase among In-SHUCK-ch people is “The Drum is the heartbeat of our people”. The teachings of the drum is an important means of learning the songs of the people and maintaining In-SHUCK-ch traditions.
The Water Song is our anthem and shared proudly by all In-SHUCK-ch.
Son of Joe and Amy Peters, and grandson of Chief Harry Peters of Samahquam and Chief Paul Dick of Lil’wat, Mtsiltsqet learned of our songs from his father and from elders in the community. It was while in the water at Lil’wat, the Water Song came to Mtsiltsqet.
The In-SHUCK-ch have always believed songs and good words are made for the purpose of passing on traditions, stories, healing, and culture to the generations to come. Mtsiltsqet passed this song onto his grandniece Xwem Xwem’atkwa “Swiftwater” who has, in turn, shared the song with the In-SHUCK-ch Nation. Listen to the Water Song.
The Water Song is a healing, helping song which is intended to be shared. – Mtsiltsqet (Mike Peters), born August 19, 1947.