A glimpse of life along British Columbia’s Harrison River, a millennium ago.
When P'ésk'a, a child of the Sta'ailes (also known as Chehalis) people, wakes to discover that a special tray needed for the First Salmon Ceremony has been left behind, he snatches it up and hurries riverward to deliver it to the Siyá:m (chief). Respectfully noting that this is an “interpretation of a time and place” 1,000 years ago, Ritchie threads his rudimentary plotline through village scenes of lightly clad people busily at work: fishing, building, hollowing out a cedar log for a canoe, making drums, weaving baskets, preparing the feast, and finally gathering on the bank to give thanks for the sth'óqwi (salmon) that is “the greatest gift.” The illustrations are created with abbreviated brush strokes and short, loosely drawn pen lines and have the warm, detailed look of Bob Graham’s work. First Salmon ceremonies are common throughout the Pacific Northwest, and aside from some distinctively patterned hats and a few other details, there is not much to distinguish the figures or their surroundings from any of the region’s small traditional settlements. Still, an afterword furnishes more about this ancient band’s way of life, and a short glossary provides an opportunity to sample its language.
Though there’s not much of a storyline, the book is a good initial introduction to a lesser-known First Nations people. (Informational picture book. 6-8)