Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC)

Our Belongings | Á:wkw’

Á:wkw’ (belongings) are the things our ancestors made and used. Archaeologists call these ‘artifacts.’

  • Several trees in a group. All very tall with brown bark, surrounded by other bright green plants.
  • Close up of the dark red bunches of berries on the plant, dark green foliage, wet from a recent rainfall.
  • A bright purple/pink flower nestled in green foliage.
  • Douglas-fir cone attached to the branch.
  • A close-up of cells with large and small holes.
  • Dark purple berries on red stems are growing in a straight line along a branch.
  • A dark grey stone shaped into a sharpened semi-circle, with the wooden handle detached.
  • Eight small pieces of translucent light-coloured rock are laying on a black background. Many are shaped into small blades.
  • Fish vertabrae on a black background.
  • Three pieces of reddish brown fibre are woven into a braid to create a cord.
  • Two large grey stones, the left one smooth and the right one pitted along the edges, are sitting on a black background.
  • Five pieces of narrow stone are shaped into points. One has the point broken and another does not taper.
  • Six arrowheads of different sizes made of dark grey stone on a black background.
  • Five arrowheads of different shapes and materials.
  • Larger piece of light grey stone, shaped like a leaf, on a black background.
  • Two round, dark grey stones, with sharpened edges and smooth tops.
  • Three pieces of dark grey stone with sharp edges on a black background.
  • An array of duck bones, including the beak.
  • A person examining an archaeological excavation site with a trowel in hand.
  • Six pieces of polished stone objects shaped into rectangles with a bevelled edge.
  • Three black and one white pieces of stone fashioned into points.
  • In the cross-section of a fireplace you can see the layers of burned material, char, and ash
  • A dirt profile showing layers of burned earth, char, and ash.  There is a trowel stuck in the soil in the foreground.
  • An open archaeological excavation with a hole exposed in the dirt.
  • Two pieces of grey stone shaped into flat square pieces.
  •  fragment of tightly woven fabric, greyish in colour.
  • Three triangular pieces of white stone with one sharpened edge.
  • Two small small stone pieces carved into a triangular shape.The black one has an engraved outline and five horizontal lines, and is pierced. The light one has lines etched at the top and bottom.
  • A close up view of the rim, body, and handle of a fragmented basket woven from bark strips.
  • Smooth surfaced white hollowed cup shaped like a pipe bowl.
  • Three small, flat sharp rocks above three larger black amorphous rocks.
  • Six pieces of polished stone objects shaped into rectangles with a bevelled edge.
  • A pale orange object with grey-green streaks.
  • Eight white bone tubes of different lengths.
  • Inside of a shiny iridescent shell with ridged edges.
  • A ring of medium to large grey stones piled like a cairn.
  • A river terrace with a number of trees and mounds.
  • A flattened and oxidized circle of metal.
  • A flattened and oxidized circle of metal.
  • White cube on black tag on dark grey background.

Plant Harvesting

sts'ísem teli te kw'ehíthelh

Ancient Stó:lō peoples made a living harvesting the foods and materials that nature provided. Our ancestors harvested plants throughout the growing season. They enjoyed plant foods fresh and dried. They transformed wood and plant fibres into houses, canoes, artworks, baskets, and other necessary items. We practice many of these activities today. In this section, we describe the most important food and technology plants used by Qithyil villagers. View All Plant Harvesting Belongings



Fish have always been at the heart of our diet. Our ancestors once ate as much as 90% fish, including salmon, sturgeon, eulachon, trout and many other species caught in the Harrison and Fraser Rivers and their tributaries. In this section, we showcase the many kinds of tools and techniques used to catch and process different kinds of fish. View All Fishing Belongings



We have always depended on animals for our survival and we have great respect for them. When the world was made, our Creator, Chíchelh Siyá:m, put animals here first and humans here last, as the weakest of all beings. Hunters, called tewít, were given knowledge and expertise in hunting and trapping by the Creator. In this section, we describe the tools and techniques of this trade. View All Hunting Belongings



Our Sq’éwlets ancestors built all that we needed--houses and canoes, boxes and bowls--from local materials. Xepay (redcedar) wood was one of our favorite and most widely used materials. Over thousands of years, our ancestors crafted a tool kit including drills, celts, knives, and saws for building. We re-used broken cooking stones as construction fill. Community planners, architects and builders were all part of our community. View All Building Belongings



Our ancestors lived and loved and raised their children at Qithyil and other villages in our territory for thousands of years. They built their houses along the river terrace, fished the river’s shores, smoked and dried fish and meat and berries for winter. The belongings in this section show how Sq’éwlets families went about their daily lives, truly dwelling in this place and making it their own. View All Dwelling Belongings



Ancient Sq’éwlets people were active business people. They met communities from near and far at the annual salmon fishery on the Fraser River to work, trade, and feast together. In Halq’eméylem, the word xwoxwíyém means "to sell something to non-family." Our Sq’éwlets ancestors traded dried salmon for tools, foods, ornaments, and many other goods described in this section. View All Trading Belongings

Caring for Ancestors


As Stó:lō, we have always laid our loved ones to rest in their home cemeteries. Over millennia, we used different types of ancestor memorials to honour our dead, described in this section. Our ancestors of long ago are now physically part of our land. Spiritually, we look after them through ‘burning’ ceremonies. In the afterlife, some return to us as the life force of newborn children. View All Ancestor Belongings