Éy kw'esé e'mi
It is good that you are here
The importance of sharing –
the teachings of sxwōxwiyám
Sxwōxwiyám are origin stories that carry lessons for the Stó:lō about how to live properly. Sxwōxwiyám tell of a time long ago when the world was “not quite right.” At that time, animals and people were able to change their form and talk to each other.
Into this world came Xexá:ls, the Transformers, who made their way through Stó:lō Téméxw, transforming people – some into landmarks, such as Lhílheqey (Mt. Cheam), others into animals and plants that became Stó:lō ancestors and valued resources, while others were changed into stone. Sxwōxwiyám show how Stó:lō people are connected to everything in Stó:lō Téméxw (Stó:lō land and home), and to each other. One such story demonstrates the importance of sharing knowledge:
"The Great Spirit travelled the land... and he taught these three siyá:m, these three chiefs, how to write their language. And, they were supposed to teach everyone how to write their language, but they didn't. So, they were heaped into a pile and turned to stone. ...they were supposed to teach the language to everyone, and because they didn't, people from all different lands will come and take all the knowledge from the people – because they wouldn't learn to write, they lost that knowledge."
– Bertha Peters, née George
Stó:lō Elder, 1995
Stó:lō culture emphasizes the value of knowing one’s sqwélqwel (one’s personal stories, and the stories of one’s ancestors and relatives), and the importance of educating and sharing with each other. The values of Iets’e th’ále (one heart) and lets’e mó:t (one mind) also speak to the “importance of working collectively and of striving for unity".