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[book cover] Xwelíqwiya

Rena Point Bolton and Richard Daly

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October 2013

9781927356562 (Paperback)
9781927356579 (PDF)
9781927356586 (ePub)


Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters

Biography & Memoir / Indigenous Studies



About the Book

Xwelíqwiya is the life story of Rena Point Bolton, a Stó:lō matriarch, artist, and craftswoman. Proceeding by way of conversational vignettes, the beginning chapters recount Point Bolton's early years on the banks of the Fraser River during the Depression. While at the time the Stó:lō, or Xwélmexw, as they call themselves today, kept secret their ways of life to avoid persecution by the Canadian government, Point Bolton’s mother and grandmother schooled her in the skills needed for living from what the land provides, as well as in the craftwork and songs of her people, passing on a duty to keep these practices alive. Point Bolton was taken to a residential school for the next several years and would go on to marry and raise ten children, but her childhood training ultimately set the stage for her roles as a teacher and activist. Recognizing the urgent need to forge a sense of cultural continuity among the younger members of her community, Point Bolton visited many communities and worked with federal, provincial, and First Nations politicians to help break the intercultural silence by reviving knowledge of and interest in Aboriginal art. She did so with the deft and heartfelt use of both her voice and her hands.

Over the course of many years, Daly collaborated with Point Bolton to pen her story. At once a memoir, an oral history, and an “insider” ethnography directed and presented by the subject herself, the result attests both to Daly’s relationship with the family and to Point Bolton’s desire to inspire others to use traditional knowledge and experience to build their own distinctive, successful, and creative lives.


About the Authors

Rena Point Bolton is a Xwélmexw artist and weaver who lives in northern British Columbia.

Richard Daly is a social anthropologist, translator, editor, and Aboriginal rights consultant. Originally from a fishing and forestry community on the Pacific Coast, Daly now resides in Norway near Oslo.



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Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.


Download the entire book

Select a Chapter

DownloadFront Matter

DownloadTable of Contents

DownloadList of Illustrations



DownloadMap of Northern British Columbia

DownloadMap of Xwélmexw (Stó:lō) territory and nearby Coast Salish areas

DownloadIntroduction by Richard Daly

Download1. Born at a Very Young Age

First Memories

My Father and My Brother

Hiding from Destiny

Semá:th Lake

Download2. Xéyteleq


Xéyteleq’s Story

After Xéyteleq: Family Ties

More Family Ties

Download3. Devil’s Run

Peter “Speedy” Bolan

Charlie Gardner

Download4. School, Work, and Marriage


Home for Summer

Uncle Ambrose and Auntie Jean


Marriage and Family

Child Rearing

Canoe Racing


Download5. Life of the Spirit



Spirit Guides

A Personal Experience


Responsibility for the Masks

Passing on Sxwóyxwey


Download6. Breaking the Silence

Weaving My Way into Political Life

Indian Homemakers


Oliver Wells


Meeting Other Activists

Download7. Moving North

Promoting Native Arts and Crafts

The North: New Threads

Life with Cliff

Baskets and Textiles

Download8. They Begin to Listen


Children of Mother Earth

Xwelíqweltel and the Queen

Still a Long Way to Go

Download9. Life Cycles

When We Come Back

Water and the Cycle of Life

For the Young


DownloadFamily Trees

A. Rena’s family through her mother’s second marriage

B. Rena’s maternal grandmother’s family

C. Rena’s maternal grandfather’s family

D. Rena’s father’s family

DownloadPronunciation Guide


DownloadWorks Cited