Me and a friend had the chance to visit a culturally important place 4 hours north of Vancouver on a weekend in the beginning of October: Stein Valley.
Stein Valley is not only scenic, it is also a spiritual place for the Nlaka’pamux nation. On quests for a guardian spirit, adolescents would travel to the valley when they were on the verge of adulthood. Stein” is derived from the Nlaka’pamux word “Stagyn”, which means “hidden place”.
Right at the entrance of the valley one encounters the “asking rock” or “birthing rock”. First Nations people would stop and ask the spirits for permission to enter the Stein Valley.
As you proceed into the valley you can find more pictographs. Some of them are reminders of mystical creatures called “transformers”, who travelled the world and accomplished heroic deeds when the world was new.
Others come from the quests for a guardian spirit. Adolescent would travel to a peak or ledge, light a fire and sing and dance until they collapsed out of exhaustion. In the dreams that followed, a natural being would reveal itself as his or her partner. This bond between human and a natural being would strengthen the person and might give him or her special powers. Many of the pictograms represent those guardian spirits.
On our travel through the valley it became clearer to me why Aboriginal culture is so close to nature. Stein Valley is a breath-taking and mystical. When you are living that close to nature, lying under a starry sky, hearing the sound of the river and the wind and it seems like the night is talking, nature gets a voice and a face. It becomes more understandable that Aboriginal peoples attribute personalities to their natural environment. And seeing this landscape with my own eyes it becomes clearer, why they value it so much.