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guide about people booklet Hul'q'umi'num'



Kim Trainor with Hazel Fairbairn, Composer
49.066080, -123.158180

Hwlhits'um | signs

Kim Trainor

The Dunlin returned in early December and spoke to me in signs.
Algorithms of blue. Murmurations. Fingerprints. Wingtips canted
in flight. Blue peals and hieroglyphs. Fleet. Theirs is an emergent
property governed by separation, alignment, extension, and
fear. There is a formula for complexity and there are words
in Hul'q'umi'num'.

Mukw'stem 'l' utunu tumuhw o' slhiilhuk'tul -

Everything on the earth is interconnected.

The Fraser's silted tongue

Thickens with blooms of phytoplankton as it enters the Salish Sea.
Milky bluegreen, sweet and salt, sunlight and glass. Sea arrow-grass.
Tawny cotton-grass. Tule and common cattail. Stth'e'qun.
Saxwul. Grasses whispering. Lhelhuqum'. T'it'ulum'. Grass is singing.

We returned in late spring, in the month of ripening
and took a boat through Porlier Pass to Lamalchi Bay
on Penelakut to see where the gunboats had fired
on Lamalchi, driving them east through Active Pass
to Hwlhits'um, where they became
the swish of cutting reeds.

At the charred pilings

of the Brunswick cannery, Lindsey idled the boat, said,
We're close close close to this place….coming every night
in summer to catch chinook, tides high on summer nights.
Later, Bill would tell us there was oral history of Canoe Pass,
that newcomers had to sing the song of Hwlitsum
to be granted passage. There's the blue net shed that used to be
green. Dark pilings like a serpent's ravaged teeth.
The last place we could speak our own language was right here,
Canoe Pass, out on the water at night, where no one could hear.
Swallows feeding on the wing. Qw'uqw'sutsun'.

We have changed the course of the river, its mouth skewered
with dikes and terminal causeways. The fish can't get through,
the resident orcas are thinned to extinction, the runs of chinook
and sockeye are low. There's no sturgeon anymore.

River rises from the green mud and spits a bloom
of tiny creatures, glass-walled diatoms, wandering phytoplankton that ride
the cold salt water, balance of sweet and salt. Diatoms spin sunlight
into threads of polysaturated fatty acids, a woven matt of biofilm
as sandpipers touch down and feed with keratinous bristled tongues,
gathering energy for their long flight north to breeding grounds
on the Copper River Delta in Alaska. Salmon smolts hide in the plume, a refuge
from predators, adjust to salinity and temperature, and again, on their return.
Tiny plankton to copepod to sculpin, crustacean, loon, grebe, Blue Heron.

You see, everything is connected.

Mukw'stem 'l' utunu tumuhw 'o' slhiilhukw'tul.

We always come back to this place.

*Deep gratitude to Hwlitsum knowledge holder Lindsey Wilson for taking us on a boat ride to trace the traditional path of Hwlitsum from Canoe Pass to Lamalchi Bay and back again, and for sharing his memories with us of this place. And also to Jared Qwustenuxun Williams for a beautiful day at Brunswick Point in August 2022, for teaching us the names and pronunciation of plants and birds, for singing a song of welcome, and for his generous permission to use the phrase “ Mukw'stem 'l' utunu tumuhw 'o' slhiilhukw'tul” in our work for “walk quietly.” Huy tseep q'u siem.

"Everything is interconnected": Creating the soundscape for "Hwlhits'um | signs"

Hazel Fairbairn

Hwlitsum knowledge holder Lindsey Wilson looked out over Brunswick Point and said to us, "people come here and say it is beautiful, but without knowing the history, the tides, the people, they don't know what they are looking at." With this one sentence he offered us a glimpse into a deeper, slower and more profound relationship with the rhythm of the land.

This soundscape for "Hwlhits'um | signs" attempts to evoke this tiny glimpse of the history, the haunting, the breath of the tides, the complex inter-connection and overlapping experience of the land and all its inhabitants, over time. Without us being aware of it, sound informs us about our environment; it connects us, helps us to empathize, tells us when to be bold, when to be cautious; what we can choose in all of this, is which voices we listen to.

Working from the line Mukw'stem 'l' utunu tumuhw 'o' slhiilhukw'tul-"Everything is interconnected," the soundscape for "Hwlhits'um | signs" weaves together filter-swept field recordings made at Brunswick Point, MIDI data captured from the bioelectric activity of plants - used to trigger samples of birds and voices- with melodic fragments and electronica generated from spectrographs of maps and images from the film.