Hen̓łeʔkʷ (basically, greetings; how are you)
Welcome to the artists and participants of Bass Coast Festival. We hope you enjoy your time here in the beautiful Nicola Valley, traditional lands of the Nlaka’pamux Nation.
We are the Scw’exmx, the people of the creeks. Our language and our customs are of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, one of the Interior Salish Nations that have lived for thousands of years along the Thompson and Nicola Rivers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia.
Our presence in our ancestral lands dates back thousands of years to sptákwelh, the Creation period when Coyote, Bear, Owl, and the other Transformers inhabited and shaped these lands. When sly Coyote freed the salmon from their trap at the mouth of the Fraser River, he sent them all the way up to the Thompson and its tributaries where we have fished them ever since. In addition to salmon and freshwater fish, we gathered roots, berries and wild plants, and hunted game.
We continue to hunt and fish and gather to this very day, and as we rely on the land and water for our life and well-being, so do we have a culture of respecting it. Water is life – for the fish and the creatures that live within it, for the land it nourishes, and for the people whose thirst it quenches. It is a precious resource, and our rivers are constantly threatened by temperature and human intervention. Please do your utmost to act with respect and responsibility toward our water.
Give thanks for the land that you are on for it gives you a place to shelter and to share stories and music. Respect the land and its plants and creatures so that others who follow you may also have that place to shelter and gather.
And of course – behave responsibly, leave no trace, and have fun.
We invite you to learn about our history and our culture – the local Band's websites are a good place to start:
Lower Nicola Indian Band: www.lnib.net/about/
Coldwater Indian Band: www.coldwaterband.com
Nooaitch Indian Band: www.nooaitchindianband.com/community/history
Shackan Indian Band: www.shackan.ca/aboutus.htm
Upper Nicola Indian Band: www.uppernicola.com/about-upper-nicole-band/
Thanks to Ruth Tolerton from the Lower Nicola Indian Band for this blog post