Tsawout First Nation

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Dedication of Sign and Land from W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ

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On March 22, 2012 Tsawout members, Saltspring Islanders, the Islands Trust, CRD, and the Bridgman family officially dedicated the W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ (facing Saanich) 13 moon Calendar Sign and the land donated to park lands by private land owners - Bridgman family - situated next to our reserve in Saltspring. It was a beautiful day for the celebration with acknowledgements to the Bridgman family for protecting and donating land that is considered to be one of our oldest and richest village sites. Aaron Sam and Earl Claxton Jr. were acknowledged as representatives from their family.



Included in the newsletter you will find a copy of the sign that was a collaboration between the artist and designer, Briony Penn (from Bridgman family), Tsawout, CRD, and the Institute for Sustainability Education & Action. Tsawout members who contributed to the content of the sign are: Belinda Claxton, Earl Claxton Jr., J.B. Williams, David (Deebo) Underwood, Helen Jack, Irvine Jimmy, Samantha Etzel, Gwen Underwood and late elders Ray Sam, late Earl Claxton Sr., and Briony Penn. Two signs were also donated to Tsawout for our band property in Saltspring.

Text From the Sign:

Welcome to W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ - "Facing Saanich"

"When I was growing up, I was taught that the Creator gave us the land, the waters, the air and every living thing on earth to look after ... if we look after this, it will take care of our needs today and for generations to come." - Late Elder Ray Sam, Tsawout

Thirteen Moon Calendar

The name W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ describes these special lands which face south to the peninsula. Nature was so rich here that it supported the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) culture year-round for thousands of years. This sign, featuring the  W̱SÁNEĆ  (Saanich) thirteen moon calendar*, is a joint project of the SȾAUTW̱ (Tsawout [say-out]) First Nation and Salt Spring community. Elders taught us that nature provided for food, medicine, clothing, tools, transport and building materials, beauty, and cultural, guidance. The names are written in both English and SENĆOŦEN [sen-cho-then] - the language of the Saanich people. 

* The Saanich Year authored by Earl Claxton (YELKATTE) and John Elliot (STOLECE)

The beauty and abundance of this land and its resources are why W̱SÁNEĆ people and the settlers love this place. Clams, crabs, herring spawns and overwintering seabirds in the bays provide staple foods throughout the seasons. Salmon migration corridors and sea mammals are a short paddle away, and creeks provide a year round source of fresh water. The land is rich with plants - from the edible camas flowers on the coastal rocky bluffs to the western red cedar which was used for making canoes, clothing, buildings and other goods. Evidence of ancient village processing grounds for clams and other resources are seen on this stretch of shoreline making this place one of the largest, most complex, culturally-significant sites in the Salish Sea. 

Since European Contact

Traditional Salish resources were managed for long-term sustenance, however after the colonial Douglas Treaty process of the early 1850s our lands were reduced to tiny reserves with token rights. The 600-acre section of land around the SȾAUTW̱ (Tsawout) Fulford Indian reserve was surveyed in 1874 for preemption by settlers starting with the Trage and Spikerman families followed by the Bridgman family. Today archaeological sites are protected, and the descendants of the Bridgman family have placed conservation covenants on adjacent private lands which protect the area from being developed or contaminated. We ask visitors to respect our continuing stewardship of this area.