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Decolonizing and reclaiming Tsilhqotin identity through story-telling Alphonse, Grant Phillip 2012

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  DECOLONIZING AND RECLAIMING  TSILHQOTIN IDENTITY THROUGH STORY-TELLING   by  GRANT PHILLIP ALPHONSE  B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2006      A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF EDUCATION   in   THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES       THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)     April 2012   © Grant Phillip Alphonse, 2012 (The Lady Who Turned to Stone) Grandfather, Charlie Alphonse (Bull Canyon Squirmish); Tsilhqotin Elder, Donald Stump (Story of the Salmon Boy); Tsilhqotin Elder, Helena Myers (How the Owl Stole a Baby); Father, Tsilhqotin Elder, Raymond Alphonse (Raven Obtains Fire)  THE LADY WHO TURNED INTO STONE This link will provide a download of the story in   During a girl’s first menstruation, a long time ago, she went off alone for about three days or so under the guidance of a mentor, who was usually an older person like an Aunty. She went alone, without seeing or talking with anyone. It was that time, for this particular young lady. She went down to the river to get a drink of water. In those days, there were no modern cups, so, she was drinking water out of a handmade basket made of birch. She was to drink only a certain amount of water. A young man followed her down to the river. Males were not allowed to be around them especially young and curious; it was powerful for a girl at a time like that. A women’s blood flow is precious and powerful, if not careful, one could damage others or self. Suddenly, she saw this young man and in disbelieve. To protect him and herself; she turned away from him and turned into stone. Today, she can be seen standing at the edge of a hill overlooking the Tsilhqotin River. In modern day, many use her stone figure as a pilgrimage. If you are ill or other related conditions, you are allowed to ask her for help, simply by asking: “Etsu (Grandmother), please help me as I am sick”. Continue and rub a cloth all over your body and then place it anywhere below or in between the rock. It is a belief that is powerful and cures the sick. Story by: Great-Great- Grandmother, Tudud.Grandmother, Mabel Alphonse told it in 1979. Discussion: The story is about a young women’s menstruation and the power they have during those times, the fact that they can have babies to make new life makes them that much more powerful. The women are respected and people are to be careful around them when they are menstruating. It is similar to them having a connection to the spirits within the outer world. The story takes place in the Tsilhqotin/Chilcotin land. The connection between normal and the spiritual life of a human being is important. One has to have a connection with Mother Earth and all life within it. It appears somewhat like working with the spirits who are no longer there but somehow continue to exist in different forms within the community.  Questions: 1. Where did it take place and what was the name of the river? 2. What was the reason she went to the river? 3. What is meant by respect in this story? 4. Is the lady who turned to stone still in existence? 5. Was there a lesson or advice in the story? Vocabulary: Menstruation, Pilgrimage, Etsu (Grandmother), Tsilhqotin (River people) BULL CANYON SQUIRMISH This link will provide a download of the story in  The Chilcotins had many Chiefs; they had chiefs for different areas and each had their own group who united when needed. In the case at Bull Canyon, only one Chief was necessary. Chief Anaham and his group were invaded on top of Bull Canyon in the heart of the Chilcotin, a place where it overlooks many kilometers on either side and has a drop of 300-400 meters to the bottom. The old Chief and his people roamed freely in their territories. They wandered up and down the Chilcotin River fishing in many of the lakes in the region. They prepared and gathered plenty of meat for the winter.  As a warring nation, it was not uncommon for different tribes of Indians to war against the Chilcotin Chief Anaham and the nation. It is understood; they were never defeated. One time the Stoney Creek Indians (Carrier) sneaked into the Chilcotin country to have a war against Anaham. One man was going from his camp to another camp along the river. Going by Bull Canyon near the Chilcotin River he saw a light, which looked like someone lighting a smoke. This man knew right away that somebody came to disturb the Chilcotins. So, he went up to the top of the hill and crept in amongst them and these people smoked out of one pipe taking turns. This Chilcotin was undetected and the Stoney Creek people gave him the pipe to smoke. Later, the Chilcotin left the people without notice. Then this man told the Chilcotin Chief Anaham and his people everything he had witnessed.  The Stoney Creek people were at the highest cliff at Bull Canyon where they could see and view all the different camps, below. When Chief Anaham heard the story he sent some men to notify all the different camps to come and meet at his place. After the people arrived at Anaham’s, they talked and decided to deal with their enemies by going to the top of Bull Canyon to surround them. When the Stoney Creek people noticed they were overtaken by surprise and in dismay of being surrounded. The Stoney’s jumped to their death from the cliff and the rest were killed, except, for one man who upon stepping over turned into a feather and landed softly on the ground below. The Chilcotin’s recognized that this man was a powerful ‘deyan’ (medicine man). Warriors immediately started to run after him until one of the Chilcotin Deyan (medicine man) halted and told them to leave him. “Let him go and tell his people what has happened here and he will die soon after the message is given”. Sure enough, as soon as the message was delivered to his people, the Stoney warrior died. In the old days, people fought in many different ways, it was not always physical but with spiritual powers or transformations that made them unpredictable. (Alphonse. 1970) Discussion: The theme of this story is to protect, defend, and respect spiritual powers. Wars are not only fought, physically. It is about the land and how precious it is to them and they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect it from invaders. The people are connected and are willing to work together to protect themselves and the territories that belong to them.  Questions/Activities: 1. Have the students write a short story about what they would do in this situation. 2. Who are the Chilcotins? 3. What area/geography are they from? 4. Can you draw the location/scene? 5. How high is 300 meters? 6. What is a feather, what would it look like when dropped down the cliff? 7. What is a Deyan?  8. Discuss or describe how one can turn into a feather. 9. What is a chief? 10. What was the reason for not killing the Stoney warrior after landing? 11. Who are the Stoneys? Vocabulary: Bull Canyon, Chilcotin, Stoney, Deyan, Anaham, Unpredictable, Feather, Invader, Spiritual, and Transformation STORY OF THE SALMON BOY This link will provide a download of the story in  Once a lot of boys were playing on the bank of the river; one of them, seeing a piece of ice drifting by, jumped on it and floated away downstream. The others tried to rescue him, but could not; he was carried down nearly to the salt water, where he came ashore at a large village. In the open space of the village a number of young men were playing. He went up to a house, in front of which sat an old woman weaving a basket, and asked for food. The woman pointed to one of the boys playing about, and told him to kill him and eat him, for he was really a fish in human form. He did so, and when he had finished, the old woman told him to throw the bones back into the water. The eyes had not been cooked, but had been thrown out on the ground. As soon as the bones touched the water, the fish boy came to life again; but he had no eyes, and came groping up to the old woman, crying because he could not see. The woman gave the fish boy his eyes, and told him to swallow them and they would come back all right. He did so, and had his eyes again. The old woman told the boy who had come down the river that very soon all the people would turn into salmon and would go upstream. And before long he saw all the fish boys making hooks of wood, which he found were to hold them from being swept back when they got into rapid water. After a while they all turned into salmon, the boy who came to the village as well and they all started upstream. Every year at salmon-time the boy’s father used to make a salmon- trap; and as he approached the place where his father usually placed it, the boy thought “Oh, if my father would only catch me, and then if my sister could take me up to the house!” And, sure enough his father did catch him, and his sister carried him up and hung him on a tree; and very soon he turned to human form again, and went toward his mother’s lodge. He met his sister outside, and told her to go and tell his mother to come and comb his head. But when she did so, the mother was angry, and said that her son had died the year before, and she beat the girl for telling a lie. At last the girl persuaded her to go see. She went out and found her son, and was glad, and began to comb his head. Now, the boy’s head had been bald after he became a salmon; but as soon as his mother combed it, his hair grew out long and beautiful, and hung down on his shoulders. One day the boy went out to hunt ducks, and took his sister along. On the way he asked her what had become of his brothers, and she told him that they had gone up to the sun to get wives, and had died there. He killed many ducks, and, having plucked the feathers and made a pile of them, he lay down on it, and told his sister to blow. She did so, and the feathers floated up into the sky carrying the boy with them. The girl went home and told what had happened, and her father was very angry. When the boy arrived in the sky country, he saw a village, and, going to the house of an old woman, he asked if she had seen his brothers. The woman told him that his brothers had come to the village, but not to her house, and that the Sun had killed them all; but that he should come into her house, and he would be safe, and she would tell him what he must do. So he went in, and the old woman gave him a piece of porcupine-gut and a piece of beaver-gut; and in the porcupine-gut was cold, and in the beaver-gut was heat; and, taking these with him, the boy went out to see the Sun. The Sun had an iron sweat-house into which he used to put men so that they could not get away, and then he would kill them. As soon as the Sun saw the boy, he seized him and put him into the sweat-house, and then heated it very hot. But the boy took the porcupine-gut and opened it a little, and the place became cool. Next the Sun made the sweat-house icy cold; but the boy opened the beaver-gut a little way, and it became warm. Now, the Sun who knew nothing of this, thought that the boy must surely be dead, and told his daughter to go and clear the bones from the sweat-house. When she came, she found the boy alive, and brought him back to the house; and when he came in, he was laughing. The Sun asked him why he was laughing, and he said because of the fun he had rolling the skulls about in the sweat-house. Then the Sun shook his head, and said he was a very clever boy, and the boy went back to the old woman’s house.  The next day the Sun went down to the shore of the lake to gather firewood, and the boy and the old woman came to the place where he was working. Now, the Sun was splitting wood with a stone axe, and, as he was chopping at a tree which grew out over the water, the head of the axe flew off and fell into the lake, and sank, and he told the boy to dive down after it. He did so, but, when he started to come up again, he could not, for the Sun had placed two nettings at different levels in the water, so that he could not get through. But the old woman had warned the boy of what could happen, and had given him two charms. And so, when he came to the first netting; he took one charm and turned himself into a small fish and slipped through; and when he came to the second netting, which was finer, he turned himself into a hair and came through, and brought the axe to the shore. Now, the Sun, thinking that the boy had surely drowned, had gone to his house. So the boy followed him, and gave him back his stone axe. Then the Sun shook his head, and said he was a very clever boy. The boy went again to the old woman’s house and gave her back the charms, and told her that the Sun had said that there were two grizzly bears near his house, and had given him arrows, and told him to go and kill the bears. He showed her the arrows, and they were bad arrows made of soft bark. So the old woman gave him good stone arrows, and he went out and killed both the bears, and cut off a foot from each. Now, the bears were the Sun’s two daughters. And when the boy came to the Sun’s house and showed him the feet, the Sun was angry, and cried, “Oh, you have killed my daughters!” But he was able to bring them to life again. When the boy went back to the old woman’s house, she told him that he was in great danger, that the Sun would take him out to hunt mountain-sheep, and while they were hunting would push him over a precipice. And she gave him a charm, and told him what he must do. The next day they went out after the mountain sheep, and after a while the Sun looked over the edge of a cliff and saw a band of sheep, and called to the boy to come and see them too. And as he reached the ground, he turned into a flying squirrel, and came down softly. And when he came back the Sun shook his head, and said he was a very clever boy. The next day the Sun said. “I wonder which of us is the better at making rain?” and the boy answered, “You try first and we’ll see.” So the Sun tried, but could only make a little. Then the boy, for the old woman had told him how, made a great rain and it poured down on the Sun’s head and cracked it all over, until he cried, “That’s enough! If you will stop, you can have my two daughters.” So they went back to the house, and the boy got both the girls as wives. The next day the boy started back for his home, and his two wives with him, but he forgot to go and thank the old woman who had helped him. Just after they had started, the Sun called them back and gave them fire to take with them. Finally they came to the boy’s house, and he left the women a little way off, and told them to wait while he went in ahead. Soon his sister and he came out to fetch them; but when they came to the place, the fire surrounded the women, so that they could not get near them, and the women went back to their father the Sun. And so the boy lost his wives because he had forgotten to thank the old woman who had helped him (Stump, 1997) Discussion: The theme is to have respect, listen, obey, and be aware of the universe and the power within. Through a transformation, it tells about the cycle of a salmon through a human: in this case, a boy. The young man lives in a world under guidance with different lessons, instructions, powers, which comes from a human, animal, spirit or a higher power (creator).  Questions/Activities: 1. Have students make a comic book that includes sketches, drawings and paintings with Tsilhqotin/Chilcotin captions and also in English. 2. Who was the boy and where did he come from? 3. How did he arrive near the salt water? 4. Who scooped him out and with what tool? 5. Describe and discuss who the old woman was and her role in the story. 6. Describe how the boy went to the sky and why? 7. What happened to his hair and how did he get it back? 8. Did he defeat the Sun? 9. Who became his wives? 10. What lesson was ignored? Vocabulary: Salmon, Sun, Salt water, Porcupine/Beaver-gut, Flying squirrel, Stone Arrows, Axe, Sky Country HOW THE OWL STOLE A BABY  A mother was busy preparing her bed. She didn’t realize her baby had gone outside, and she called out, “Anish”, several times, but her baby didn’t return. Owl heard the baby crying, and said, “Chayi (grandchild), anish, ebedesk’ins (naastla) na#es/alh”. The baby walked towards the owl. Owl stole the baby and carried (him) to a nest, high up in a tree.   The next morning, the parents went searching for their baby. They found him sleeping comfortably next to a rabbit leg in the Owl’s nest. The mother took her baby down and took him home. On finding out about “his new baby” missing, the Owl came searching for him. He hung around near the family camp for days, pleading, “Seding setl’ananlhtish”, to which the mother replied, “Lha nending nasestih”. By: Tsilhqotin Elder, Helena Myers Discussion: Always be careful where the baby is and never trust anyone. The life of an animal or a bird is no different than human. Many stories are in the form of an animal or from an environment. We are all brothers and sisters in the universe. We often include it in the stories as if they were human. Questions/Activities: 1. Have students act it out; they can make wings to look like an owl. 2. Draw the scene or make a comic book. 3. Discuss and come up with your own story in the situation. 4. What would you do if you were the parent? 5. What language did the owl speak and what do they mean? Vocabulary: Anish, Owl, Chayi, Ebedesk’ins, Naastla, Setl’ananlhtish, Lha nending nasestih, Nest, Rabbit   RAVEN OBTAINS FIRE  This link will provide a download of the story in In the old days there was no fire in the world except at the house of one man, and he would not give it to the other people. So one day Raven resolved to steal it, he gathered his brothers, friends, and went to the house of the fire-man. The fire was burning at one side of the house, and the owner sat beside it to guard it. As soon as Raven and his friends came in, they all started to dance. Now, Raven had tied shavings of pitch-wood in his hair; as he danced, he would come near the fire, so that the shavings would almost catch; but the fire-man kept a sharp watch that it did not happen. So they danced and danced, until one after another grew tired and dropped out, but Raven kept on. Raven danced all that day and night and all the next day, until even the fire-man was worn out with watching, and fell asleep. As soon as Raven saw that he put his head so that the pitch-wood caught fire, and, dashing out of the house, ran about over the country, starting fires in different spots. The fire-man waked, and, seeing smoke all about, knew at once what had happened, he ran about trying his best to get his fire back, but could not because it was burning in so many places; and since that time, people have always had fire. Now, when the woods began to burn, the animals started to run; and they all escaped except the rabbit, which did not run fast enough, and was caught in the fire and burnt his feet. And that is why rabbits have black spots on the soles of their feet today. After the trees had caught fire, the fire remained in the wood; and this is the reason that wood burns today, and that you can obtain fire by rubbing two sticks together (Alphonse, 1990) Discussion: The theme is not to be greedy and to share. To treat fire with respect so we do not burn ourselves like the rabbit.  Questions/Activities: 1. Make a play, have students make their own costumes. 2. Learn to sing and dance, like the Raven and friends. 3. What is pitch? 4. Where can you make pitch? 5. Draw a cartoon and color them. 6. Retell the stories as a group. 7. Introduce it to the community as a scene with singers. 8. Have a field trip to gather pitch. 9. What other uses does pitch have? 10. What is Raven’s role? Vocabulary: Raven, Fire-man, Pitch-wood, Smoke, Rabbit, Pitch, Dance     


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