Living Legends: The Circle is the Shape

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Byron Spinks is a respected Nlaka’pamux Elder and storyteller who welcomes visitors to Tucckwiowhum, a legendary Nlaka’pamux village five kilometers south of Boston Bar. The village contains a smokehouse, food caches, a sweat lodge, earth ovens, and a pit house, traditionally inhabited by the Nlaka’pamux during the cold months, from fall to spring.  The home accommodates a sizeable intergenerational family with a center for cooking and closeness that encourages storytelling.

Round homes, based on a shape repeated in nature, are just one example of Indigenous innovation. Contemporary home builders now recognize the benefits of circular structures long-known to the Nlaka’pamux and other Indigenous People: round homes, including pithouses, are energy efficient, promote ventilation and circulation, require less material to build, and withstand strong winds and weather conditions.

Nlaka’pamux hosts share their knowledge of the history and culture of the Nlaka’pamux people in a traditional land tour because the land remembers when the people are on it. “How often have you looked at the mountains, rivers and forests around you and asked yourself: ‘I wonder what this land was like a thousand years ago, I wonder how life was for the First People in this area, or how did the First People survive in this beautiful, rugged land?'”

With hope and pride, Spinks says: “I hope to have more villages like this in the future to share our culture, our traditions, and our language and that’s very important to share that because that’s what enabled us to survive the many generations that we have today.”

Our latest Living Legends video shows the importance of extending learning opportunities outside museum walls. It allows visitors to see beyond static artifacts and exhibits that represent Indigenous innovation and presence on the land as a thing of the past. Cultural tourism and dedication to the revitalization of this old village allow tourists to experience what it took to run a home and not only survive, but thrive, without electricity or fossil fuel, grocery stores or pharmacies on impossibly beautiful and rugged terrain.

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