This land is full of stories. And because I am a person who loves stories, and values them as currency, and doesn’t file them under “make-believe”, that is a meaningful, mysterious and marvelous claim, to me.
A story is a riddle. Information in a package, designed to be upacked if you can unlock it, or unlock the part of you that listens.
This was brought home when I read over the draft Management Plan that has been jointly prepared by the SLRD and Lil’wat Nation for the Riverside Wetlands/Ském’em Community Park – 91 acres of land, with a CN railway and right-of-way running through it, located just outside the Village of Pemberton along the Lillooet River – that you might know as the Fulton Wetlands, or the Bathtub Trail, or your favourite spot down by the river.
The Plan was jointly prepared by the SLRD and Líl’wat Nation, with input from the Pemberton Wildlife Association, Stewardship Pemberton and the Pemberton Valley Trails Association – but the coolest thing about it is the Aboriginal Interest and Use Study that Lil’wat Nation’s Department of Land, Resources and Public Infrastructure prepared as part of it, that is appended to the Plan.
Here’s some of the information that fascinated me:
“The area in and around the Fulton Land and proposed Riverside Park was used traditionally by Lil’wat people for hunting, gathering and fishing. This use is evidenced by the nine culturally modified trees and a culturally depression which was likely a cache pit. The culturally modified trees show evidence of cedar bark stripping that pre-dates 1846. Three Lil’wat place names in the area provide traditional use and historic information.
Place name Nc67a skclII ‘elll (pronounced “nlu\-a-shkim-im”) means high digging potatoes and is located on the hillside to the northeast of the Fulton land. The term potato is used loosely here. The place name is an indication that Lil’wat people gathered root bulbs, which may have been Yellow Avalanche Lily, Western Spring Beauty, or Tiger Lily.
Place name Nxcw ‘ena skclII ‘elll (pronounced “nh6w-win-a-shkfm-im”) means low digging potatoes and is located within the Fulton land. This may be referring to the digging of the bulb that grows at the end of a stem of the Cat Tail plant. These bulbs were harvested in the spring by Lil ‘wat people. People would remove their foot wear and walk into the swamp bare foot so that they would feel the bulb with their bare feet.
Place name S 76y’allicw (pronounced sh-ay-ee-in-ooh) is the name ofa Lil’wat historic village site located on the western shore of Lillooet River, north of the CN Rail bridge.”
To reflect the collaboration between the SLRD and the Líl’wat Nation in preparing the park management plan, and the cultural importance of the area, the name of the park has been changed to Riverside Wetlands/Ském’em Community Park.
Ském’em means ‘to dig edible roots’, which was the traditional use for the lowland area of the park.
The park was briefly farmed in the 1940s. An old map of Riverside Park shows a “turnip patch” on the northwest corner.
It feels so apt, doesn’t it? Like our story, as a community of people living in a seed potato valley, just got even richer? Edible roots. Sustenance. Over eons. From this river-enriched earth. In such a variety of ways.
Many different users enjoy and value the park, for a wide variety of uses. The SLRD and Líl’wat Nation want to ensure all users’ needs are met by the management plan. They’ve posted the plan online with an invitation that people review and comment on it by May 1 2017.
Once the survey results and comments have been received and compiled, the Plan will be revised and brought forward for final approval.
Adoption of the Park Management Plan will then allow the SLRD to proceed with an application for tenure to the Crown land on the southern part of the park.