Secwepemc Cultural EducationSociety
Sitka Alder, Alnus crispa ssp. Sinuate A. sinuate, A. viridis ssp. Sinuate, A. sitchensis, kwle7ellp
The Secwepemc people widely used Sitka alder to make a reddish-brown dye. They used it to color gambling sticks, porcupine quills, hair, feathers, straw, dressed skins and buckskin clothes. The Secwepemc sometimes mixed the bark with Saskatoon berries to make a dark purple dye for hides. They also made a black dye by boiling the bark with roasted iron pyrites. The wood was used for fuel, smoking salmon and meat, carving and basket making.
Trembling aspen, Populus tremuloides, meltallp (E) meltellp (W)
The Secwepemc used the thin trunks as tent poles and drying racks for fish and deer meat. Secwepemc boys made whistles from the branches. The wood was used for fuel.
birch bark basket
Red huckleberry, Vaccinium parvifolium, tsiquse7
The Secwepemc ate these berries fresh or dried. Today, these berries are also canned, frozen or made into jam.
Paper birch, Betula papyrifera, qwllinllp
The Secwepemc used the bark to make baskets, canoes, infant carriers, baby cradles and urine conduits. They stripped it from the tree in rectangular sheets in late spring and sewed it with split cedar or spruce roots. The birch bark strips were used to wrap food for storage, to line underground caches, to line graves and cover corpses, to splint broken limbs and bind implements and as a roofing and siding for temporary shelters. The wood was used as fuel. The Secwepemc steeped birch leaves in water to make a shampoo and mixed birch leaves, childrens' urine and alkali clay to make soap for washing the skin.
MOIST FOREST GARDEN
The moist upland areas are habitat to many deciduous tree species, such as trembling aspen, paper birch and black cottonwood. These species are quick to re-establish themselves after a disturbance, such as fire. In areas of partial tree canopy cover there is a lush shrub layer that includes black and red huckleberry, thimbleberry and Sitka alder. Many songbirds and wildlife are closely associated with these forests. Deer and grouse forage on the herbaceous plants and berries that grow in the sheltered understory, while bears eat the berries as they come down to the rivers to feed on salmon in late summer.
Western meadowrue, Thalictrum occidentale
Other Natives used the roots as a poultice for sores and wounds also as an arthritis medicine.
Tiger lily, lilium columbianum, taxtsin` (E) taxtsin` (W)
They have a peppery or bitter taste; all Interior native people ate the large bulbs. The Secwepemc dug them up in late summer and fall, as late as November. They were often used as a condiment to add a peppery flavor to other roots and foods, including pudding made from saskatoons, bitterroot, salmon eggs, tree lichen and sometimes other foods. The Tiger lily bulbs were not usually eaten raw, but boiled or steamed for several hours. If there were an abundance the people would dry them in the sun after being cooked, either whole or mashed in thin cakes, then stored for winter use. Some Secwepemc people believed tiger lily bulbs to be a good health food, improving general strength and giving one a healthier, longer life if taken in small doses.
Black spruce, Picea mariana, t’sallp (E) t’sellp (W)
The pitch was used for gum, glue, and holding false teeth together. The spruce roots were peeled, split and soaked in water, for sewing the seams and rims of birch bark baskets and other types of bark baskets. The sheets of spruce bark were used to make large cooking baskets, similar in style to birch bark baskets. The spruce bark was also used to make canoes. Secwepemc hunters made bedding from the boughs, covering them with a thick layer of fir branches as protection against the sharp foliage. Secwepemc children learned that if they became lost, to always look for a spruce tree for shelter.
Red columbine, Aquilegia Formosa
The columbine was used as a good luck charm for gambling and as a love charm. A decoction was made for a hair wash.
Oval leaved blueberry, Vaccinium ovalifolium, seq’we7s
Oval leaved blueberries are among the first berries to ripen, sometimes as early as the first part of July but can be found later in the season at higher elevations. Sometimes, Secwepemc women cooked the berries over a small fire as they were picked, allowing them to soften so that they would take up less room and require fewer baskets when carried home.
Metéltwecw-kt Es Knúcwetwecw-kt
"Everyone come together to help one another."