The Life of a Stó:lō Matriarch



Xwelíqwiya is the life story of Rena Point Bolton, a Stó:lō matriarch, artist, and craftswoman. Proceeding by way of conversational vignettes, the beginning chapters recount Point Bolton's early years on the banks of the Fraser River during the Depression. While at the time the Stó:lō, or Xwélmexw, as they call themselves today, kept secret their ways of life to avoid persecution by the Canadian government, Point Bolton’s mother and grandmother schooled her in the skills needed for living from what the land provides, as well as in the craftwork and songs of her people, passing on a duty to keep these practices alive. Point Bolton was taken to a residential school for the next several years and would go on to marry and raise ten children, but her childhood training ultimately set the stage for her roles as a teacher and activist. Recognizing the urgent need to forge a sense of cultural continuity among the younger members of her community, Point Bolton visited many communities and worked with federal, provincial, and First Nations politicians to help break the intercultural silence by reviving knowledge of and interest in Aboriginal art. She did so with the deft and heartfelt use of both her voice and her hands.
Over the course of many years, Daly collaborated with Point Bolton to pen her story. At once a memoir, an oral history, and an “insider” ethnography directed and presented by the subject herself, the result attests both to Daly’s relationship with the family and to Point Bolton’s desire to inspire others to use traditional knowledge and experience to build their own distinctive, successful, and creative lives.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover 1
Contents 6
List of Illustrations 8
Foreword 10
Acknowledgements 12
Map of Northern British Columbia 15
Map of Xwélmexw (Stó:lō) territory and nearby Coast Salish areas 16
Introduction 18
1 Born at a Very Young Age 58
First Memories 60
My Father and My Brother 65
Hiding from Destiny 69
Semá:th Lake 74
2 Xéyteleq 80
Chu’chelángen 83
Xéyteleq’s Story 87
After Xéyteleq: Family Ties 96
More Family Ties 101
3 Devil’s Run 106
Peter “Speedy” Bolan 116
Charlie Gardner 121
4 School, Work, and Marriage 124
Coqualeetza 124
Home for Summer 130
Uncle Ambrose and Auntie Jean 134
Canneries 135
Marriage and Family 139
Child Rearing 141
Canoe Racing 152
Lehál 154
5 Life of the Spirit 158
Syúwel 158
Mí’hla 161
Spirit Guides 166
A Personal Experience 168
Sxwóyxwey 170
Responsibility for the Masks 179
Passing on Sxwóyxwey 183
Burnings 186
6 Breaking the Silence 188
Weaving My Way into Political Life 188
Indian Homemakers 193
Alliances 202
Oliver Wells 206
Revivals 209
Meeting Other Activists 212
7 Moving North 220
Promoting Native Arts and Crafts 221
The North: New Threads 228
Life with Cliff 231
Baskets and Textiles 239
8 They Begin to Listen 254
Rewards 254
Children of Mother Earth 257
Xwelíqweltel and the Queen 262
Still a Long Way to Go 267
9 Life Cycles 272
When We Come Back 272
Water and the Cycle of Life 276
For the Young 278
Epilogue 282
Family Trees 286
A. Rena’s family through her mother’s second marriage 287
B. Rena’s maternal grandmother’s family 289
C. Rena’s maternal grandfather’s family 291
D. Rena’s father’s family 292
Pronunciation Guide 294
Glossary 298
C 298
G 298
K 298
L 298
M 298
N 299
P 299
Q 299
S 299
T 300
X 300
Y 300
Works Cited 302
Index 308
A 308
B 308
C 308
D 309
E 309
F 309
G 309
H 309
I 309
J 310
K 310
L 310
M 310
N 311
O 311
P 311
Q 312
R 312
S 312
T 313
U 313
V 313
W 313
X 313
Y 313
Z 313