A couple generations after first contact, a man named Sepass decided, towards the end of his life, to create a written record of what is in effect the Sto:lo bible. The Sto:lo, my people, are Indigenous to southwest BC. The bible was a long epic song. 1 #IndigenousPeoplesDay
Long, long ago,
Before anything was,
Saving only the heavens,
From the seat of his golden throne
The Sun God looked out on the Moon Goddess
And found her beautiful.


Hour after hour,
With hopeless love,
He watched the spot where, at evening,
She would sometimes come out to wander
Through her silver garden
In the cool of the dusk.


Far he cast his gaze across the heavens
Until the time came, one day,
When she returned his look of love
And she, too, sat lonely,
Turning eyes of wistful longing
Toward her distant lover.


Then their thoughts of love and longing,
Seeking each other,
Met halfway,
Hung suspended in space . . .
Thus: the beginning of the world.


Sat they long in loneliness
The great void of eternal space
Closing in upon them.
Despair hung in their hearts.
Gone was the splendor of the golden throne;
Gone was the beauty of the silver garden;
Their souls burned with a white flame of longing.


Up leaped the Sun God,
Chanting his love song,
The words of his love thoughts:


“My heart wings its way to you,
O daughter of the Moon!
My heart wings its way to you
Where you stand
In your silver garden;
Your white face turned toward me.


You will receive a gift,
O daughter of the Moon!
A gift of my great love
For you only;
You will receive a gift of my love
This day, ere the dusk falls.”


He seized his knife,
And with swift slashes,
Tore a strip of bark
From a great tree.
Still he chanted his songs
Of love and longing,
As he wrote on the birch bark
In the speech of springtime,
The language of lovers.


From his place at the gate of the Sun,
He, the Sun God,
Raised his arm high
And cast his message
Far into the sky.
Swift it flew,
Following an unerring course
Toward the distant garden
Where sat the Moon Goddess.


But what of the message?
Alas! It wavers in its flight;
Falls on the embryo world;
Thus: the land.


Far across the heavens,
In her silver garden,
The Moon Goddess wept bitterly.
A tear was borne by the wind;
Fell on the half-formed world;
Thus: the water.


There from the love thoughts,
Longings and love words
Sprang beautiful trees and flowers.
Little streams gurgled through the forests;
Leaping waterfalls foamed;


The song continues for quite a while. But in the place where that song was sung, the first European visitors recorded metal work, apartments, markets, trade, bridges, tombs. And before all that, our ancestors' ancestors built pyramid mounds, near Vancouver. 15
On the first night of first contact, the Europeans report the night sky glowing red with fire in our country. Our volcano -Kulshan - warning them away. All throughout early colonization, it erupted spewing ash. When Europeans began building, we set the forest on fire. 16
There are stories of a massive fleet, thousands of canoes under sail, all over the Salish world - former enemies, bound together for an epic final battle to forever subdue the Kwak'waka'wakw. This after a last stand at Kanaka Creek by the Kwantlen, where they actually won. 17
We talk about tearing down monuments. Don't do that, you'll destroy history. At Stanley Park is Siwash Rock - it is the body of a new father, at the birth of his child, turned to stone as a monument to the future of pure faith and fatherhood. 18
His wife and child were turned to stone too. But their bodies where blown up, not just torn down, but blown to pieces by explosives in order to build the seawall. So he stands there alone, without his family, a monument to cruelty. 19
Which is a bunch of different ways of saying that #IndigenousPeoplesDay isn't about us, we have our own holidays. But it's a good day for non-Natives to discover that they know nothing about the country in which they live, and should use this day as a reminder to fix that. 20
Because what came before Canada wasn't just savages in loin cloths banging rocks together - no matter how much the National Post, the CBC, try and push that. It's more complex, more crowded, more meaningful than most of what has come after. #NationalIndigenousPeoplesDay 21/21
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