Skowkale First Nation has a wonderful history full of very interesting people, one of whom is Old Chief William Sepass. His legacy has not only been his contributions as Chief but also his book, Sepass Poems. Any nation of people are defined not just by what they eat or the language they speak, but rather by their values and beliefs. These values and beliefs are preserved in their history, and for the Stó:lō and Xwelmexw, in our oral tradition. Xwelmexw (Coast Salish) mythology is more than just bedtime stories. These old stories contain the very fabric that forms the basis of our cultural identity. Many of our ceremonies and practices can be traced back to some of these very fundamental concepts about creation and about our connection to the Creator. The Xwelmexw cannot be fully understood by simply studying anthropology reports or archaeology findings. Our oral tradition provides the key to a broader view of who the Xwelmexw people were and are today. These myths and legends as recorded in the Sepass Poems form a vital link to our past and to this Xwelmexw world view that was cradled in the minds and hearts of our Elders over many hundreds of generations.
Our Xwelmexw youth will truly benefit from reading these poems because they contain the essence of Xwelmexw traditional beliefs and spiritual values. Since European contact our traditional knowledge has been under siege. This new edition of Sepass Poems offers a unique opportunity to correct this historic wrong committed in the name of assimilation by filling in this knowledge gap left by years of neglect and suppression.
In 1949 George Clutesi said this about the Sepass Poems: “These poems will be the Indian classic of the future”. By this, I think he meant that like the Homeric legends of Western thought, the Sepass Poems are a profound legacy to future Xwelmexw generations as they continue to seek meaning and stability in an ever-changing modern world.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Sepass Family for sharing this book with us. It is a very proud moment indeed for all of us Xwelmexw people and the people of the world to see this new publication of such an important and historic piece of our past now made available for everyone to read and to appreciate.
– The Honourable Steven L. Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
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