Learning the Native Way
This museum in the Whistler Village was for the Squamish and Lilwat tribes. We learned about everything the Natives had to do to to survive.
When we arrived at the museum, we participated in a welcome dance, where there were three animals; the eagle, the wolf and the whale. Mikhaila and I were in the whale group. Each animal had to dance and make noises at the same time. It was a lot of fun.
The fishing part was one of the most interesting parts of the Native Centre. There were all different kinds of things the natives made for fishing for salmon. One of them looked almost like a basket. It had many thin carved sticks cut into a cone shape. Inside was another cone, but a lot smaller. The fish could swim into the point of the cone and push open the inner cone, but would be trapped inside.
They also did spear fishing with ropes attached to the spears. Once they spear the fish, it might swim away so the Natives had to pull the rope to bring the fish to shore.
Even though the tribes lived close together, their clothing was very different. In the Squamish tribe, there were hundreds of sheep dogs. The Natives sheared them and used the fur to make clothing. Later on, they found sheep which were a lot easier to take care of, and produced more wool to make clothing.
In the Lilwat tribe, they made clothing out of animal skin (deer, bear and moose skin). To make the clothing waterproof, they rubbed them with bear brains. Animals were unable to smell the hide and were not attracted to the smell of the clothing.
Stories were very important in the Native culture. One story was told to children to try to keep them from leaving the village and wandering off into the forest by themselves.
In the forest, there lived a really tall lady who went by the native name of Halkalilh, or the “Wild Woman of the Woods”. One of her favourite hobbies was capturing and eating children.
One day, two children did not listen to their babysitter and wandered into the forest. Halkalilh captured them and carried them in her huge backpack.
Luckily, the babysitter found them and tried to free the kids but it didn’t work.
They traveled far into the mountains and then finally arrived at Halkalilh’s cave. She tied up the two kids with cedar rope, put them in a cage and then started up a nice hot fire for cooking the children. Then, the babysitter had an idea! He was able to free the kids and the kids tripped Halkalilh. She fell into the fire and something terrible happened… The smoke from the fire went high into the air and the ashes turned into a bunch of blood sucking monsters! Mosquitoes and head lice! Two things that still today feast on children’s blood.
Rope was very important for the native’s survival and we were able to learn how they made rope out of cedar bark.
First, strips of bark were soaked in water for about two minutes.
Then we had to wrap it around a peg once and twist both sides of the bark strip.
Next, we put the right side over the left and then twisted them again. We repeated the steps until the rope was complete.
The rope making reminded me of the rope making in India out of the coconuts.
We were also able to see a Pithouse, a traditional home that the Natives lived in. It is energy efficient because the roof is made out of grass and keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The main entrance was in the middle of the roof and there was a secret entrance on the side of the house.
One other interesting thing in the Pithouse was the ladder in the middle. If enemies attacked, they would find the door in the roof and climb down the ladder. Little did they know, that there were no steps at the bottom, so they would fall down and gave the owners an advantage.
This ladder reminded me of the 12th step in the prison at The Bunratty Castle in Ireland.
The Native Centre was really interesting and fun because it was very interactive and had a lot of great information.
It is really nice to have a Native Centre to learn more about the Natives in British Columbia.