I have been told that the Secwepemc people art was not a highly developed art but I disagree.
As with most First Nations their art forms were not important to the society that was taking control of the territory.
One just has only to look at the baskets, shields, ceremonial bowls, weapons, clothing, and every day tools the people used to see great functional art forms.
Don Pongracz, Haida Carver, guest in Secwepemc Territory
The earliest recognized Secwepemc Art is involved with ceremony. Carved stone bowls with figurines of human and animal show a well developed art that was often involved with rites of puberty.
Figurines of one’s personal spirit guide was highly personal and so did not get shown but the carved spirit guides that have be found show great skill in their creation. The pictographs and petroglyphs that were created on the rocks to make a record of personal events also show great skill and imagination. Beautiful and artistic they were also involved with ceremony and rites of passage. They are also an early form of iconic writing see Petroglyphs
Also Images in Stone
The sculpture and the themes are also reflected in the baskets. The patterns shown by stone carvings were mirrored in the baskets.
The creation of Secwepemc art would take place largely in the winter months. Roots and grasses were dried and stored for basket making. Tools were carefully made and repaired and these tools were also a form of art, expertly shaped to show both the spirit and animus of the object and also created to be the best of tools. The ritualized carving using spirit animals for talking sticks and dance wands (may have come later) but was still done in ways to make it part of the Secwepemc cultural tradition.
Reflections of Spirit
The headdresses used as part of the regalia also came from a vision, and the spirit guides that came in the vision would then be recreated as the headdress and “costume” of the person. Moccasins and embroidery on jackets and shirts were also an artistic rendering that while taking hour upon hour to complete were usually uniquely crafted for the individual. It is that intense involvement with the culture that makes the art so powerful.
The stories and the hands that created and the person that wore the garment are all part of a very powerful form of social art.
One of the greatest art forms the Secwepemc people developed was storytelling and that is being past down now as some great young story tellers are emerging to teach the youth the stories of their ancestors. The history, the life styles and the survival of the language are tied into the teaching of the story tellers.
The Secwepemc artistic tradition continues today with current Secwepemc artists. Sharing their talents, stories and traditions and keeping the past close while they move forward into the future.