Journey Through Secwepemculew - Secwepemc Art and Expession

Songs and Dances


Dances were important to Secwepemc people because their territory was very spread apart so when the bands did all gather together they would celebrate with dancing and the songs. There were different types of regalia worn for different dances to compliment the type of dance.
The dances were often imitation of animals or the hunting of animals. In recent years the pow wow has taken over as the way of dancing. The pow-wow style of dance is a new way of dance but continues the idea of celebration and socializing that has been done for many generations.


Secwepemc songs and dances played a major role in maintaining spiritual and community harmony within traditional culture.  The maintenance of the tradition of Secwepemc songs and dances today bears witness to the survival of the people.  Secwepemc music has always created a vehicle for cultural transmission of tribal values and relationships.  Through song, the Secwepemc people have shared spiritual teachings and cultural history.  There are many types of songs, many with accompanying dances.  Some of the types include :

  • personal power songs
  • dance songs
  • comic songs
  • doctoring songs
  • animal imitation songs
  • mourning songs
  • travelling songs
  • love songs
  • sweathouse songs
  • lullabies

As you can see, there are a variety of songs that would be employed when appropriate.  Some songs were shared amongst all, although some songs, in particular, personal power songs, are held as sacred to an individual. Most Secwepemc songs are sung either in the language or with vocalizations.  Songs could be sung with hand drum accompaniment with or without a rattle.  Both men and women sang songs, although some songs were gender specific.


In a movie clip Chief Atahm School students perform the Secwepemc traditional swan dance at Adams Lake Band gymnasium.Location: Adams Lake Reserve gymnasium, Date June 2007 Copyright: Chief Atahm School. The girls float across the stage to the music and act out a story.


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