P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony -- Book Review & Learning about the Sts'ailes People -- Global Learning for Kids

Disclosure: Groundwood Books gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.  As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

November is Native American Heritage Month. With my love for Native American culture I love this heritage month!! I was thinking today about why I love Native American culture so much. It could be part of white man guilt over how they were treated (and are still being treated by our government), but I think it is more how they lived in harmony with the environment. I really love their stories and how they did not waste. The talents each group has was so amazing and it just seems so much more of what I see God wanting from us. They were usually good stewards of the earth. 

Since it is Native American Heritage Month, Global Learning for Kids is focusing on Indigenous People of North America.  Multicultural Kid Blogs is hosting its annual Native American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway. We will be participating in the blog series later this month, but you can enter the giveaway now and the book we are sharing today is in one of the prize packs! Today we are sharing P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony by Scot Ritchie.
 This wonderful book is about a young boy named P'esk'a. He awakens on a very special day for his people--the First Salmon Ceremony. The First Salmon Ceremony is an annual festival to celebrate the catching and eating of the first salmon of the year. He notices the special ceremony tray is still in his home and runs to bring it to the chief. Along the way he passes tribe members who are doing every day things so we learn a bit about the culture. There are men making a canoe from a cedar tree.

The tribe also makes other things from cedar including their clothes made from its bark. There is discussion of what food P'esk'a and his family eat and he goes through the smokehouse and thinks about his favorite foods: smoked salmon and dried blueberries. He sees the drums being made. Finally as the drums to begin the ceremony beat, P'esk'a finds the chief and brings him the ceremonial tray (also made of cedar).
After the feast the people put the bones on the tray and the chief returns them to the river and thanks the river for the great gift. At the end of the book there is information about the Sts'ailes People. They live on the Harrison River in British Columbia and have for at least ten thousand years.

In the time of the story the people lived in pit houses and plank houses. It was estimated that one thousand years ago (when the book took place) P'esk'a's village of Hiqelem had a population of about five hundred people, but no one knows for sure. There were fourteen pit houses and six plank houses. The plank houses were larger. Many families lived together in both types of houses. 
975.008.025 First Nations
A Group of Chehalis Nation (Sts'ailes) People 
See page for author [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The book also shares a glossary of Halkomelem, the language of the Sts'ailes People. It mentions that at one time this language was banned but now the people are learning it again thanks to the community elders and teachers. At the very end of the book there is a letter from Chief William Charlie of the Sts'ailes People giving the book his approval. He feels that Scot Ritchie did a respectful look at the history of the Sts'ailes people and it is wonderful that he is teaching about it. 

The Sts'ailes still have a community in the Harrison River area. Their community includes a church, community hall, elder's care building, hotel, convention center and store as well as the homes of the 564 people who live there. 

The other thing the book mentions is a white woolly dog native to this area of North America that is now extinct. The dog is on every page and the cover. After a bit of research on-line I am assuming it is the Salish Wool Dog. The Sts'ailes used the dogs fur in blankets and clothing. European contact began the downfall of the Salish Wool Dog. The death of so many of the indigenous people contributed to the dogs breeding with other dogs and losing their identifiable traits as well as the availability of sheep and other blankets. The last dog identified as a Salish Wool Dog died in 1940. 

Hazel and I have been enjoying exploring this wonderful group of people who live so far from us but we can imagine their lives with this book. I hope you will take the time to check it out and learn a bit more of this culture. 

Sources for this post besides the book:
Wikipedia, Wikipedia on Salish Wool Dog,   Sts'ailes

We have done a few other posts on the salmon runs:
For the reviews I have done of other prizes in the giveaway check out:

Since this post is part of Global Learning for Kids, now is your chance to share any posts you have on indigenous people of North America. Be sure to check out all the other great posts to get a complete picture and lessons on various tribes. And don't forget to enter the Native American Heritage Month Giveaway! You may win your own copy of P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony!