Man Turned to Stone: T’xwelátse brings to life a remarkable story of loss and repatriation. At its heart is a message of collaboration and cooperation between cultures and communities.
In the spring of 2011, the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford in collaboration with the Stó:lo Research & Resource Management Centre, artists David Campion and Sandra Shields created this exhibition that told the story of Stone T’xwelátse.
Their was a strong desire on the part of this team to get the information and images from the exhibition out to the public. Through grants provided by Heritage Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council, there were funds to produce a book about the exhibit. My first role in this project was to help in the designing & printing of the book. It is a 11″ x 14″ paperback (ISBN 978-0-9879661-0-0) and gives you the history behind T’xwelátse and his message which is still pertinent today “We must all learn to live together in a good way”.
After the book was published, we moved onto designing a website that was basically a mirror image of the book but worked like a virtual book that can be updated as times change and more information becomes available. I have built ebooks, but this is the first time that I’ve turned a book into a website and it was a valuable experience. Aside from the text and images included in the book, you’ll also be able to view the film “T’xwelátse Is Finally Home” and more videos that help to convey the history and meaning of T’xwelátse’s story. You can download a free copy of the printed book by clicking on this link (25 mb file).
There was one more thing to be done to complete the project and that was to do some advertising to let people know about the exhibit, book and the virtual book website. To that end we created a press release, with the writing skills of the talented Naomi Pauls of Papertrail Publishing (who also did the editing on the book). The press release was sent out on August 2, 2012 to the lower mainland BC media as well as aboriginal media across Canada. We also designed and published ads on websites that we thought would give the best exposure to the project.
I get such pleasure from the interesting people I meet through my work. I’ve been fortunate in working on quite a few projects revolving around the rich history of our aboriginal people and always feel so lucky to be a part of passing their history on… this project was no exception. Many history books in the past were written from a European point of view, so it’s wonderful to see the history of the people who have been here from time immemorial being shared with the general public. Here is a quote from the book and website that explains T’xwelátse’s transformation:
“T’xwelátse and his wife were on the riverbank arguing when Xá:ls happened upon them. Xá:ls, the great Transformer being given the responsibility by Chíchelh Siy:ám for making things right as he travelled through our lands, asked this man and woman if they would consider not arguing and that there were better ways of resolving conflict and resolving problems. As a result of his intervention Xá:ls and T’xwelátse, who was a shaman, decided to have a contest. They tried to transform each other into various things—a salmon, a mink, a twig. Finally, Xá:ls was successful in transforming T’xwelátse into stone. Xá:ls then gave the responsibility of caring for Stone T’xwelátse to T’xwelátse’s wife. Stone T’xwelátse was to be brought home and placed in front of their house as a reminder to all of the family that we have to learn to live together in a good way. And the family’s responsibility from that point in time was caring for Stone T’xwelátse—given to one of the women of our family. They were to be the caretaker of Stone T’xwelátse throughout their lifetime and would pass it on to one of their daughters or granddaughters, who would then be responsible for caring for Stone T’xwelátse for that generation.”
—As told by T’xwelátse (Herb Joe), 2003
I encourage you to visit the website, to read about “Man Turned to Stone: T’xwelátse” and watch the videos. I can’t think of anywhere else where you could read the story of a man turned to stone, but who is still considered to be a living being. It’s an unique opportunity to learn and explore this fascinating story.