Review of Sptékwles re Qelmúcw, redacted by Mona Jules

Sptékwles re Qelmúcw. Stories of the PeopleSptékwles re Qelmúcw. Stories of the People by Mona Jules

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For the language learner, this is a spectacularly valuable collection of short tales and autobiographical reflections given in the Secwepemc (Shuswap) language. This is the most widely spoken of the indigenous languages of British Columbia, Canada. The stories, told by fluently speaking elders of the people, are given line-by-line translation into English. Many are recent or contemporary but one goes all the way back to the transcriptions of James Teit.

Most fascinating to me are the tales that are formed like traditional stories, but full of post-imperial elements. A good example is Ida Williams’ tale ‘Re Q’weyél’qs ell re Síntse7 (The Priest and the Altar Boy)’, about a priest who gets the altar boy to piggy-back him out to a graveyard where something, maybe the devil, is rumoured to be eating up the dead. The culprit turns out to be a pig, which, in trying to escape, knocks the priest right off the altar boy’s back and carries him away.

This is a culture that’s going places, and Sptékwles re Qelmúcw is a book that’s helping to take it there.

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