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


When we talk about territory in today’s world, it’s quite different than our lands and our territory from when I was a child. ʔəms giǰɛ, ʔəms nɑʔ giǰɛ – this is our land, this is our territory. Wherever people lived. And when I say “our” people, I include Klahoose and Homalco. Klahoose being the toʔqʷ qɑymixʷ, and Homalco being ʔoʔp qɑymixʷ. “toʔqʷ” being Squirrel Cove, “ʔoʔp” being Church House. The Church House people are the Homalco people. “tuwɑ št ʔoʔp” – “We’re from Church House.” “ʔoʔp qɑymixʷ” – “We’re Church House people.” And the same as Klahoose – “We’re toʔqʷ qɑymixʷ.” So those are the terms, the language that was used for describing people that lived in those areas. So. And prior to that, I would think that was just the name of the territory, and because our people were placed there after contact, they took on the name and it stuck, that we’re the ʔoʔp or the toʔqʷ qɑymixʷ. Or we’re the ɬaʔamɩn qɑymixʷ. And “ɬaʔamɩn” being Sliammon. But that’s the name of the place, ɬaʔamɩn, that’s where I live now. In English, it’s “Sliammon” because they couldn’t write or pronounce “ɬaʔamɩn.” When I write my address down it’s “Sliammon,” otherwise I won’t get my mail, right?

So those are the changes that were made. But I think prior to that, from my understanding and from my own memories, that people travelled a lot, even after we were identified as three different people. But I’ve always felt that we are one people. pɑʔɑ št qɑymixʷ – we’re one people with Klahoose, Homalco, and the Church House people. Prior to that, the old people used to talk about how they worked together very effectively, the three communities. They were one people. They spoke the same dialect. They understood one another. So when we’re looking at overlapping territories, you know, I find that difficult – of course it’s overlapping! Because we’ve shared the land. We shared the territory. ’Cause we’re one people.

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