Saturday, July 11, 2009


Chehalis, a First Nation situated near the confluence of the Harrison and Chehalis rivers in what is now known as the province of British Columbia, is developing ways for working with children and families that honour their own history, widom and values. The people of Chehalis have created a document that represents such values and gives direction to the work of assisting their own people.

This document describes what is important for the people of Chehalis when it comes to assisting families within their own community. However, I find this document to be of value for all of us. I asked Anna Charlie, from Chehalis, if I could share this document with those who read this blog. She said that they would be happy to share this document if it would benefit other communites.

I hope you find this document of value, as I have.


Snowoyelh is the natural law the creator provided for us. It is the "Law of Everything", the law of life, the stages of life. Snowoyelh is based on respect to all things, recognition, obligation and traditions, and is the basis of our culture and spirituality.

Emi:melh is a generic word meaning children, but also means family, whether by blood or association; the word has both social and spiritual connotations.

Sts'a'lies is who we are.

Snowoyelh Te Emi:melh is an obligation that we as Sts'a'lies people have to our children, our families, our ancestors and those yet to come, because that is the natural law.

Snowoyelh Te Emi:melh includes these principles:

  • Our families are paramount to our culture and society
  • We have the capacity to codify family law
  • Our culture, spirituality and traditions are core to our identity
  • Past, current and future generations are all important to us
  • Our children are our most precious gift
  • All children have unique gifts
  • We are measured by the actions of our children and grandchildren
  • Families must be recognized and supported
  • Extended families have a role in raising children
  • Our families have connections that extend beyond our community
  • Healing must be provided to those family members who need it
  • Healthy communities are based on healthy families
  • In family there are no 'reserve' boundaries
  • Community leaders have a place supporting and advocating for their members

Monday, July 6, 2009

Talking about Talking

I want to think of a world where talking is not something which separates us, cuts us away from the worlds of animals and nature, but where out talking emerges from the movements of nature, and where our talking (I sincerely hope) also returns us to the prolific world of life from which we came.

I wish to think of our talking as connected to the songs and calls which animals create.

I imagine the call of the wolf, the mystical song of the thrush, the vibration of the cricket, the chatter of the chickadee, as emerging from the same sorts of relations and creative impulses as do our own words and our own songs.

I imagine that our talking is similar to the sonic engagements of the bat or the whale -- calls are put forth, but it is in the return that the contours of worlds are explicated.

It’s not in the speaking, therefore, that any meaning is produced, but it is in the return of our calls that worlds are brought forth.

Our sense of language, of words, of song is not about a search for a truth, not about knowing the correct formations of reality, but rather, in the return, rich, pragmatic, and complex worlds are produced -- this is not a knowing of precision, but a multifaceted and sensual experience of contour, texture, proximity and distance.

Words can only come from life – I search for words as a return to honour life.