As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder

Respecting Traditional Knowledge

What Are TK Labels?

The Internet is widely considered a place where information circulates freely. This assumption is at the core of the Internet’s democratizing potential. The Internet also offers the promise of two-way dialogue on all matters, a platform guaranteeing the citizen’s right to comment. But this open-access impulse and the right to debate exist in tension with Indigenous laws and protocols that govern the respectful treatment of knowledge, including how it is shared and circulated.

The Traditional Knowledge (TK) labels used in this book are designed to bridge this potential divide. Adapted from the “Local Contexts” project directed by Jane Anderson and Kim Christen, they share with readers information from a ɬaʔamɩn perspective on the ownership, copyright, and fair use practices for the materials in this book. These labels help readers engage with this book in a manner that is respectful of the rights, governance, and cultural practices of the community.

Fundamental to our understanding as ɬaʔamɩn people is the recognition that ʔəms tɑʔɑw (our teachings) are communal knowledge and are not individually owned so much as collectively stewarded. Our obligation as ɬaʔamɩn people andǰɛʔaǰɛ (families) is to collectively hold and responsibly steward this knowledge and these teachings for future generations. For example, no single ɬaʔamɩn person holds ownership to the qayχ (Mink) stories. These stories are owned collectively and each ɬaʔamɩn person must uphold responsibility in their telling.

The following four TK labels apply to this book:

ʔətᶿ naʔ (Attribution)

The Sliammon-language term for this label means “it is mine.” This book contains the teachings and history of the ɬaʔamɩn people as remembered and narrated by Elder Elsie Paul. The effort and care she takes in this work is important. She offers a counter-narrative to incorrect and inappropriate interpretations previously drawn by settlers. Please respect Elsie Paul’s right and responsibility to relate the history and teachings in her own words. She does so from her own perspective and does not attempt to speak for all ɬaʔamɩn people. Please attribute the stories shared in this book to Elsie Paul.

Some sections of this book are authored by other individuals and should be attributed to the appropriate person(s) as indicated.

tiʔiwš (Outreach)

This label refers to a teaching that emerges throughout this book: “you learn from someone by example.” (The literal translation of tiʔiwš is “fast learner.”) The goal of this book is to share ɬaʔamɩn teachings and history widely with ɬaʔamɩn community members, students, and teachers at all levels, and with any other interested readers. This is Elsie’s goal in sharing ʔəms tɑʔɑw, and all of the authors hope the book serves an educational purpose. The authors ask readers to take care to use this information respectfully and in context.

xʷaʔ čxʷ xʷaǰišɛxʷ (Non-commercial)

This label’s message is clear from its translation: “don’t be selling it, don’t be profiting from it.” It reflects the fact that this book was produced as a freely available and educational resource. The knowledge it conveys is not to be used for any commercial purpose. Please respect this label.

ʔəms naʔ (Culturally Sensitive)

Material in this book may be culturally sensitive for a number of reasons. This label identifies such content by stating: “it is ours.”

ɬaʔamɩn teachings, laws, and practices that flow from them are subject to the ʔəms naʔ label because they are communally held and collectively stewarded by ɬaʔamɩn people for future generations. Much of this knowledge is captured in our legends, for example. The authors recognize that ɬaʔamɩn, Klahoose, and Homalco families have their own tellings of the legends.

Other parts of the book are labelled “ʔəms naʔ” because the ongoing nature of settler colonialism means that the histories discussed here are not part of a distant past. For close to a century, colonial laws and policies prevented community members from sharing teachings freely in their community without fear of punishment or retribution, imposing silences that remain even today. Thus this label also applies to chapters that discuss the genocidal practices that sought to interrupt the transmission of teachings and to sever ɬaʔamɩn sovereign rights to their territory.

Please treat information and photographs marked with this label with special care, especially if you plan to share them with others.

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