The chapters of “Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way” begin with full-page illustrations by 17 local artists. Cover art by Tyler Toews

Sinixt storytellers to launch new book

Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way presents Sinixt stories told by Marilyn James and Taress Alexis

A multi-pronged project that includes a book, online audio files, a public art project, a petition and a teacher guide will be launched at the Vallican Whole on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way is a book of traditional Sinixt stories told by Marilyn James and Taress Alexis, but the book contains only a summary of the stories. To experience the stories themselves, readers must actually hear them, in audio files on the site of the book’s publisher, Maa Press.

“The leaving of the stories in their oral format is an honouring of the way they were told,” says the book’s editor K.L. Kivi. “They were never written down. They were always passed from family to family, mouth to mouth, heard not read. Hearing and reading are two different experiences. Marilyn and Taress are amazing story tellers — there are sound effects and voice effects and pauses that are very difficult to reproduce in written format.”

The book is a project of the Blood of Life Collective, a group whose goal, according to Kivi, is “to heal the settler-indigenous divide through creative art projects, to use creativity to attempt to work toward decolonization and reconciliation with the Sinixt because this is where we live.”

The book has a chapter based on each story. Each chapter includes the story summary, a reference to the audio of James and Alexis telling the story, and then a transcription of a discussion about the story between the storytellers and members of the collective.

In the discussions, James and Alexis are asked about the meaning of the stories.

“The discussions cover a huge range of issues,” says Kivi. “We talk about Sinixt mourning practices, food that was gathered, hunting practices, games and competition, ethics and human behaviour, the caribou, winter village life. There is a whole range of discussion of cultural practices that show how the Sinixt lived and also what some contemporary interpretation of those lifestyles are.”

The chapters begin with full-page illustrations by 17 local artists.

As for the stories themselves — the ones readers must go to online to hear — Kivi says they are “original material — you will not find it anywhere in print or in any other form. We want to make available all the richness of culture that arose from this land where we make our homes.”

Some of the stories are contemporary. For example, Kivi says the chapter called “In the Shadow of Extinction” is about a contemporary Sinixt man, Ambrose Adolf.

“He used to go north of Revelstoke and had an experience of the huge caribou herds that were there and his story goes to when he came back from World War Two he came back to that spot. He got himself though the war saying if I live I will go back to that spot. Well, he was faced with fields and farmers fences, and the discussion is what has happened to the caribou over the last 150 years. So that is an example of a contemporary story that talks about caribou recovery, a thread that goes from the past into the present.”

Other stories are traditional.

“Those familiar with traditional stories from First Nations in Canada know that there are often interesting animal characters involved. Coyote is one. Other animal beings too. They get up to all kinds of things that are not necessarily understandable through our Western lens.”

Related to the book is a series of Kootenay Co-op Radio radio broadcasts entitled Sinixt Stories, and a public art project which Kivi says is still in development. Also in development is a teacher’s guide to the book for presentation to elementary, secondary and college-level students.

The Sunday event will include the telling of some of the stories in the book. The collective will introduce a petition at the launch asking federal government to reverse the Sinixt extinction.

There will also be events in Nelson at Touchstones on April 5 at 6:30 p.m. and in Kaslo at the Langham on April 12 at 7 p.m.

Just Posted

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Seven Nelson rec projects granted Columbia Basin Trust funding

Nelson’s baseball and tennis clubs were the big winners

Sanchez leads Leafs to 6th straight win

Nelson held off Spokane 3-2 on Friday

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

CHECK THIS OUT: Love and e-Readers

Anne DeGrace on downloading new literary relationships

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read