Tsek Story

Time Before Memory

Nsvq’tsmc or nkúkwtsa (n-kook-shta), the down-river St’át’imc (stat-lee-um) people, have lived on this land, tmícwa (t-me-qw), since time before memory.  In the heart of the St’át’imc peoples, tmícwa is a place called Tsek.

An elderly couple living at Tsek were visited by utszím’alh, an immortal creature composed of four brothers, a sister, and mink.  Known as the Transformers, utszím’alh was sent down from the heavens by the Creator, near the beginning of time, to eradicate evil, reward good people, and make corrections to the earth’s landscape.

The couple said to utszím’alh, “let us be two springs, one hot and one cold, side by side. People who bathe in us and drink our water will become well.” Utszím’alh made it so.

After the creation of the springs, many people lived at and visited Tsek. After bringing salmon up the river, the Salmon Men made their house at Tsek using the springs for boiling their food. The nkúkwtsa established a permanent village of (s7)ístken (eesh-kin) pit houses and plank houses beside the hot springs at Tsek drawing upon the springs for their physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness.

The hot and cold springs became the most important spiritual site in the lower Lillooet River Valley. The hot spring was valued for the healing properties of its mineral water.  The cool spring was also considered a healing pool and it was here that the Elder mothers trained men to be chiefs, watchmen, and other important positions.

Travel to, from, and through Tsek was made by way of foot and canoe. Trails were developed from Tsek into and over the mountains as overland routes for hunting grounds and trading. Trails along the waterways headed up and down river connecting the villages of the Lillooet River Valley.