Being at Ye'yumnuts
It is important to behave respectfully and safely when you visit sacred ancestral sites, like Ye'yumnuts. The teachings of Cowichan Elders and cultural experts are important to follow, and are usually shared orally and in-person. This video of Harold Joe, a Hul'qumi'num cultural expert about burials and archaeological sites, can offer an introduction to these teachings.
Guidance from Elders
Other teachings shared by Elders recommend not eating or gathering food at the site, not saying names which may be similar to those of the ancestors, not talking about potential bad events, and not removing anything from the site. Site visits should be guided by cultural experts who can give direction and explanation as they understand to be appropriate. Visits to and discussions about the site should only happen in the morning, and should be respectful.
Our snu’uy’ulh, or Hul’qumi’num laws, dictate that we have an inalienable connection to one hundred percent of our traditional territory. They lay the foundation for how we must continue our obligations in our relationship with the World, which is connected to us through the First Ancestors. Respecting these obligations is integral to the Hul’qumi’num way of life.
Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group (3)
Have I received any teachings from my parents or Elders? Yes. I’ve always been told to be careful and be mindful of our Ancestors. You always pay respect. It’s like when you visit a gravesite, you have to carry yourself in a certain way… You always have to have a prayer in your heart and tsiit sulwheen [thank ancestors] I guess thank them and in a very respectful way. I guess with that all just go in the teachings.
Charles Seymour, Cowichan Tribes (18)
It was in our culture held very sacred and it was taboo to go to these sites without a reason. So children would be told of this, to keep away from them…. And these sites were held very sacred, probably more so than our present cemeteries because today we know where these cemeteries are. We know where our loved ones are buried.
Ross Modeste, Cowichan Tribes (28)
McLay, Eric, Kelly Bannister, Lea Joe, Brian Thom, & George Nicholas. 2004. 'A'lhut tu tet Sulhween "Respecting the Ancestors": Report of the Hul'qumi'num Heritage Law Case Study. Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group.