"The St'át'imc Woman Dream"
Posted with permission cwvlcwvlvpcen

When I was a young child I carried big dreams. I remember looking up to the stars and wishing with my big brown eyes. "Please God help me. Help me to be good. Help me to be an Indian. I want to sing, I want to dance, and I too want to speak Indian. I want to be big like my Kwekwa7 (grandmother)." My Kwekwa7 was a very strong woman. She worked hard in the garden, she harvested every season, she worked with and for the family at large, and she helped in all areas of the household and with all her grandchildren. She would take me for walks and tell me stories and speak to me in her mother tongue. She was my star. She was my beauty. My Kwekwa7 passed when I was quite young as a child, since then as a child I dreamed of her and her strength. I wanted to be just like her, a strong beautiful Indian woman.

One day, I awoke in the morning I was six or seven years old. I felt really good. I felt good about myself. "Wow I feel like an Indian today I feel it getting stronger in my blood." As my mother prepared my breakfast and my lunch bag for school I would ask her repeatedly: "Mom how do you say rabbit in Indian? Mom how do you say dog in Indian, or hey how do you say I am hungry in Indian?" My mother though never responded. She would never tell me how to say anything in Indian, rather she would tell me: " Oh Laura just never mind."

My mother went to residential school and had lost the knowledge of her language speaking through forced shift and had passed on to me voluntary language shift, that is language no longer spoken to younger generation in the home. But never the less I continued to bother my mother and continued to ask her questions even when they made her upset.

As I walked up to the bus stop I sang a song:

"Hey yah hey yah hey yah hey yah

Hey yah hey yah hey yah hey yah."

My brothers and sisters would look at me and smile, never saying a word to me. I would smile back with amazement and excitement. As the bus drove up and parked before me I stepped into and found a place to sit. The big yellow bus was long and the windows were high and the seats were big and green. I sat on the big green seat next to the window with my eyes peaking barely getting a look to the outside view. My feet dangled off of the chairs. But I still smiled. My heart was glad "Wow I feel really good today, I feel like I am more Indian today than I was yesterday."

So I started to sing. I was singing a chant, I was singing out loud, with all my heart and spirit I sang:

"Hay yah hey yah hey yah hey yah

Hey yah hey yah hey yah hey yah."

Over and over I repeated the chant. When all of a sudden I could hear people laughing. But I kept singing:

"Hey yah hey yah hey yah hey yah

Hey yah hey yah hey yah hey yah."

My Cousin who was in high school perched over her seat and looked down upon me "Laura what are you doing?"

I responded, "I'm singing an Indian song. I want to be an Indian, I want to be a singer, I want to be a dancer and I want to be a big like my Kwekwa7."

She laughed and patted me on the head, " Don't be silly Laura you are not a good singer, you don't know how to dance and you're just a kid"

As I reflect back on this experience I can still recall the numb feeling of the pain, as a child my spirit hurt, the balance of my medicine wheel shifted, but too, I also recall sitting on my big green seat holding my tears back and within the core of my spirit biting it down and telling myself over and over: "Don't cry Laura. You can do it. You can be a singer, a dancer, and you will make a good Indian!"

I am now twenty-seven years old. I have earned my St'át'imc identity with a name given to me by the elders in my community. The name I carry is Cwvlcwvlvpcen meaning I create a breeze or a wind by the kicking and dancing of my feet. I am a proud mother of two beautiful boys Mixalhcen (Spirit of the Bear) and Skweltapis (A Horse with the Colour of the Golden Sun). I have risen above and taken the challenge to make my dream a reality. I am a drummer, singer, songwriter, and a fancy shawl dancer. I learned through trial, error, and many practices. I watched and observed and acted. I too have taken on the responsibility of language learning and speaking accessing language programs and seeking speakers. Since then I have consistently been involved in the revitalization of the St'át'imc Language within my community at large. Through song writing and language instruction to infant and toddlers in preschool day care facilities, the youth in summer day camps, school programs and young adults to recording the elderly within the community.

I continue to strive forth into my life with a strong will. I diligently do what it is required to provide myself as a valuable role model to my community. It is rooted in my inner landscape language; culture and education must be in accord with each other. First Nations people must be able to live a balance within these areas. Language is necessary for the maintenance and survival of language integrity. Within language knowledge is contained. It is a social engagement a people have with each other and too the engagement they have with the land, the environment. Culture too is necessary for the survival of traditional practices, songs, dances, oral traditions, and the recognition and honor of our ancestors who maintained the traditions we hold fast to now. Education is necessary for the survival in the Eurocentric world we all live in. Use the education system to strengthen our language and culture. Balance the traditions of the old with the new skills of today so we can succeed in our life and dreams.

I no longer dream of my need for Indianness in my blood because I am one and always was. I am a St'át'imc woman a native person born from the land given by the Creator. I have a language, a culture and most of all I have an identity. I live a balance of the old and the new teachings rooted in my culture and education. My dreams are bigger now. I believe I have to do what is necessary to ensure my boys, nieces, nephews and all other members young and old learn the St'át'imc Language to ensure my grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren will have a language, a culture, and a place to call home on the traditional lands within the St'át'imc Territory.

My mother has now picked up her drum and sings the songs of the St'át'imc this is what brings tears of joy, love and peace to my spirit, she is now speaking the language she once shamed. One word at a time, one statement at a time, one phrase at a time the language is slowly awakening. I believe in my mom and she believes in me. My mother is a mom to five of us children. I am the second youngest child of the family. I too am the only child who has taken the road of education, cultural and language learning, development, growth and understanding. My brothers and sisters are active working within the community or in neighboring tribes and communities.

My cousin who thought my dreams were ridiculous apologized and honored me with a feather asking for my forgiveness. We have both mended our wheel and created balance within ourselves and with each other. My dreams may be ridiculous to you or as they once were to her but that is what makes them unique. If you don't believe in my dreams who will? As indigenous people we must be supportive and willing to open our arms to our children's dreams. They need guidance, direction or assistance when in need. Most importantly children must believe in themselves and their dreams.

The knowledge and expertise that I have gained in my life are due to my own accomplishments and the support of family and friends who believed in me. I had a dream, I believed in my dream and I wanted it bad. I believe people need to make dreams, I believe they need to have a vision of what it is that they seek in life. Make a dream, make a decision, make a plan and act on it. "An action without a vision is an illusion. I vision without an action plan is mere confusion but a vision and some action can make life and transfusion." These are the words I have heard from a powerful motivational speaker and they too are a reality of life. Dreams are important; dreams are necessary to live a life of value and meaning. Take control of your life and shape it to your desire rather then molding to the events that you encounter within the day or the next day. For every decision we make in our daily lives has a great impact on our future. We all need to be accountable for your actions, decisions and take control of our lives, dreams and goals especially in regards to language maintenance and the vitality of our culture.

I believe the spirit of my Kwekwa7 provided me spiritual guidance, strength and will to make my dream a reality. I am a strong young St'át'imc Woman growing and striving to live a meaningful life in the spirit of balance and wealth of cultural traditions and education. Now my dreams are to complete my education become active within my community and too begin the process of a Masters Program to make possible better changes within the education system for our people.

With that in closing, All of my relations.


Cwvlcwvlvpcen is Statimc from Lillooet more specificly Xwisten, This article has appeared in the July Issue Secwepmec News.

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