Sts'ailes... the beating heart
North of Highway 7, running along the west side of the Harrison River, lies the village of Sts'ailes, whose traditional territory includes Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Lake and includes the watersheds of Harrison Lake and River, Chehalis River and the Fraser River. The name Sts'ailes, meaning the Beating Heart, comes from halfway up the west side of Harrison Lake. In this area, Xals, the Transformer, battled a once-powerful shaman called the Doctor and turned him to stone.
In an effort to preserve and limit him, Xals broke apart pieces of his body and spread them throughout the territory, creating landmarks. Where his heart landed became known as the village of Sts'ailes. The usual English name Chehalis is identical to that of the much more numerous Chehalis people of southern Puget Sound in Washington. By Sts'ailes tradition, the southern Chehalis were separated from their homeland as a consequence of the Great Flood. Fish and seashell fossils found in abundance near Mystery Creek (cited as one of the meeting places of Sasquatch) deep in Sts'ailes territory, seems to support this Native American Hypothesis. The culture in Sts'ailes runs very strong. They take great pride in what they do and how they carry themselves particularly through their ceremonies and in their spirituality. They "live" the culture.
The people of Sts'ailes perform many ceremonies such as The First Salmon Ceremony and Ground Breakings for new buildings. The drummers of Sts'ailes have vast knowledge of traditional songs and their artists are well known in the territory and beyond. With a focus on traditional teachings, personal growth and high academic standards at all levels, the Sts'ailes education department is a model of educational achievement.
From pre-school age, Children of the community are gently guided through an education curriculum that includes cultural education and the Halq'emeylem language. Through workshops, children and teens are being taught traditional skills such as drum making, drumming and singing. If Sts'ailes village is the Beating Heart of the territory, the community school is the Beating Heart of the Village.
What today is known as the Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, was first a private estate built on Sts'ailes traditional territory in 1903. About 15 years ago, it was remodeled into an Eco Lodge.
Then in the spring of 2009, Sts'ailes purchased the beautiful building and the Eco Lodge is now fully owned and operated by the band. Recently, the band opened a renowned retreat facility known as Lhawathet. The new building provides accommodations, catering and meeting space for conferences and gatherings, business retreats and meetings. Archaeological findings indicate that Sasquatches were known by humans up to 10,000 years ago. The word Sasquatch comes from the Coast Salish word Sasqac, which is the name of a spiritual creature who is believed to have the ability to change to human form at will. Pictures courtesy of http://www.stsailes.com/whats-new/photo-gallery, see also www.lhawathet.ca