There are many well-known destinations in BC that attract travelers from all over the world. Lillooet, British Columbia isn’t on the big time international radar yet, but that makes it so much more pleasurable to visit.
First Nations People
Before modern society discovered this area, the St’at’imc First Nations people lived here. Surviving off the land, they built their villages and planned their hunting for ideal conditions.
Luckily for those curious about this culture, the current generation is still keeping their traditions alive and passing them down to their children. Travelers staying in Lillooet can participate in these cultural activities and leave with a new sense of enlightenment about how the St’at’imc First Nations people were able to thrive without modern conveniences.
Most fascinating is the S7istken (pithouse) Archaeological Site. University of Montana students are currently digging up the site, in which 80 pithouse impressions have been found (around 25 people lived in each one), and some of the smaller ones are thought to have been for females who were going through their menstral cycle (they did not take part in ceremonies, activities and feeding or touching others’ belongings, as this was such a sacred time).
Laura John is one of the stewards of her people and, like others who lead visitors on tours, is passionate about keeping her culture alive, especially through teaching the next generation.
“If we have no language, what kind of people are we? If we don’t have a land base…? Everything here has a word. How [else] can we protect what we know nothing about?”
River Salmon Fishing
With that in mind, there is also an opportunity to see a demonstration by the St’at’imc people of how they cut and wind-dry their salmon, as well as how they have fished since time immemorial.
The men have “fishnets” that look a lot like lacrosse sticks, but as they demonstrate, the net opens and closes in order to fish successfully.
Then a process of cutting the salmon partially and stretching it allows the pieces to separate and be dried by the air. It is believed this simple technique has been used since their people first started fishing.
Back in the town of Lillooet, BC, is a fine hotel to rest weary heads. The Reynolds Hotel, built in 1941, is a comfortable and unique accommodation right in the middle of Main Street. Rooms are all decorated in their own themes and have been newly renovated (rates vary between $89-$109 CAD).
For more information about planning a trip in and around the Lillooet, BC area, contact the local visitor’s centre (790 Main Street, 250-256-4308) and Vancouver Coast & Mountain Tourism (604-739-9011 or 1-800-667-3306).