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Seasonal Rounds

Stó:lō culture emphasises the interconnectedness of all things. Traditionally, Stó:lō life revolved around distinct seasonal patterns, and families travelled to various sites in Stó:lō Téméxw to collect plants, hunt, fish, and harvest resources. Gathering supplies for making objects such as blankets, sleeping mats, and baskets, was part of these annual rounds. For instance, sá:ys te p'q'élqel (mountain goat wool) for making yarn was gathered in the late spring, at the same time as slewíy (the inner bark of xpá:yelhp, the cedar tree) was pulled. Some Stó:lō continue to follow these practices, but it is becoming more difficult to find traditional materials as gathering sites become scarcer and less accessible.


The disappearance of resource sites is not a new phenomenon to the Stó:lō and began with the arrival of colonial settlers. Landscapes were destroyed for the construction of railways and roads. Severe impacts, including the draining of Semá:th (Sumas Lake) and the damming of Stave Lake, for purposes such as farming and logging, further decimated gathering areas. The whole Fraser Valley was cleared of cedar trees and forests to make agricultural land. Loss of habitat meant the resources needed to continue creating traditional works dwindled. The Stó:lō were forced to adapt, change, or even eliminate what they used for, and how they created cultural objects. For instance, the extinction of sqwema:y (domesticated woolly dog) and declining populations of p'q'élqel (mountain goat), meant traditional sources of wool for weaving swōqw'elh (blankets) became insufficient. Today, further loss is resulting from urban sprawl, rising commercial land use, and increasing infrastructure requirements. Additionally, conflicts over who can control and access traditional Stó:lō sites and resources continue to present challenges. 


Some say that the destruction of resource-gathering areas has led not only to a loss of resources, but also, to a certain extent, the loss of knowledge because it is more difficult to produce creative works using traditional materials. On the other hand, the determination of many Stó:lō to continue to create artistic objects has actually flourished through the development of adaptive techniques over the years, such as the fusion of methods. For example, some weavers now spin metú:lqel (domesticated sheep’s wool) by hand and use inexpensive, innovative dyes, like Kool-Aid, to colour the yarn. 


The Stó:lō have also engaged in ongoing arrangements with governments, companies, and other entities, as well as private individuals, for access to resources, such as collecting unused cedar logs felled during logging or travelling through private property to harvesting sites.

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