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Expressions of

Material Culture

Stó:lō creatives talk about how their works or material culture contain their history and stories and portray sxwōxwiyám and sqwélqwel. People’s personal creativity is expressed and interwoven through their art, and the creators of items such as weavings and baskets can be identified through the patterns and styles that they use. Although these are not “owned,” they are recognised as “belonging” to certain individuals, families, and areas, and they can only be used with the permission of their creators. According to Elder Ts’ats’elexwót,Elizabeth Herrling, “…certain people [made] their own designs. My mom used mostly diamonds and the star. People from… up country there, they have different designs.” Ts’ats’elexwót goes on to describe how she was given an unfinished basket by a friend. Ts’ats’elexwót finished the basket and showed it to someone who said, “That’s not your design.” Ts’ats’elexwót acknowledged that “it belonged to the old lady from up at Yale and she started [it]. I just finished it [for her].” (SRRMC, SR098, 2018)


In addition to design patterns, knowledge such as when, where, and how to collect, prepare, and use resource materials differs between individuals, families, and areas. For example, how to use certain earth pigments and plants to dye wool to produce specific colours, where to harvest the straightest cedar roots for basket-making, and various carving methods are passed between individuals, within families, and from one generation to the next.

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