In Honour of ISTA

"In remembering Ista, I remember Ista herself, how she showed her connection to the Creator by decorating her blanket and dancing. I remember her through my own blanket, and when I dance to her song in our potlatches that validate our ways and connection to the Creator. I remember my grandmother, Skwucwlikwana (she who invites others to feast) who climbed the mile-long hill at Ista in order to protect what is left of our territory for me and my son, and all of the forthcoming children who will be born into our struggle.

I remember the words of the women at Ista who maintained that we must remain strong for our children and remember the sacred connections passed down to us by our grandparents. I remember the pain and anger my community experienced at the hands of colonial institutions and the internalized devaluation we struggle with because of it. It is a story that is still raw with emotion and intensity; something I will not soon forget. I also remember the hopefulness and strength in my people to become healthy and united again. In remembering, not only will we survive, we will thrive. Our story continues."

Jacinda Nuskmata Mack: Remembering Ista

Left: Skwucwlikwana (Lucy Mack), 1997.

"Today We Pay Tribute to Skwucwlikwana"

We, as Nualkmc went to Nuxalknalus, to protect our Valley of ISTA because it has a spiritual significance to the existence of Nuxalk People.

The sacred story of ISTA is where the first Nuxalk woman descended to our lands from Nusmata. Today we continue to sing the Song of ISTA danced by our ladies to introduce our most powerful dance of Thunder, the "T'sayulth."

Lady ISTA brought the family names, peoples' names, and their family crests for our traditional blankets to show who we are as the Nuxalk. Today we pay tribute to one of our Elders, Lucy Mack, "Skwuclikwana," a name which originates from ISTA.

To clearcut log the Valley of ISTA is like the tearing down of other peoples' churches. To destroy ISTA is to destroy Nuxalk beliefs; our Human and Indigenous Rights; our identity as a People.

As Nuxalkmc, we have never ceded, treatied, sold, or relinquished our connection to our Lands and Rights. Our Creator through the Great Spirit put us into these Lands to care for and protect; as Nuxalkmc, we are committed to do so.

Nuxalk & Squamish Potlatch – 2010

Above: Nuxalk Hereditary Chiefs at the Nuxalk & Squamish Potlatch, Chief Joe Mathias Centre, North Vancouver, 23 May 2010.

Right: Squamish dancers. In 1995 many of our Nuxalkmc chiefs, elders and activists were arrested on King Island for trying to stop the clearcut logging and destruction of ISTA. They were arrested and forcibly taken by RCMP to Vancouver to stand trial. During this time of hardship, the Squamish Nation welcomed them and gave them billetting in their homes.

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Nuxalk Stand at ISTA, the Squamish invited the Nuxalkmc Dancers and Elders to their Bighouse to honour them. Also the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Sxayilkin Siyamand and Squamish Alhxixa (Penny and Cedric Billy) was celebrated.

Right: Nuxalk Hereditary Cheifs: Snuxyaltwa, Sximina, Snxiluulha, Slicxwliqw' and Nanus.

Below (from right): Nuximlayc, Alhxixa, Skyakw (Karen Anderson), Harry Schooner, and Elder Pearl Snow.


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