I ntroduction written based on interview with Joe Aleck
Pre-contact, every "village" had an Indian name. Today, the villages have been turned into "reservations" and given a "white" name. Chiyom, originates from the halquemeylem name T'chiyam and is now known as Cheam, which means "wild strawberry place". When our homesteads were up towards the eastside of Chiyom, you could smell the wild strawberries for miles away. And when people asked where we were from, we would say T'chiyam and they would know that we lived in the wild strawberry place. In the older days, none of our people spoke English so there wasn't any translation to think about in our language. The mountain goat has a story for Cheam - it tells where we came from as Chiyom people. Chiyom is also known for the beautiful Mt. Cheam. The legend about Lady Mt. Cheam is that she was taken south and married Mt. Rainier. They had five children, two were males and three were females. Lady Mt. Cheam got lonely for the people in the valley so she took ...
Cheam First Nation is a village of the Pilalt tribe of First Nations. Prior to European contact, our village participated with other Pilalt villages in stewarding our lands. Fishing has always been foundational to our people and has influenced our culture and traditions, how we steward our lands and the strong focus we have on protecting the environment. Before contact, the health of our community was strong. We managed our resources and food sources were plentiful.
After European contact, our people became dependent on the Indian Agency. The Federal and Provincial Governments took away our stewardship of the land and many of our systems now are colonized rather than traditional systems. Our systems are underfunded; therefore many of our programs and services are underfunded. That has resulted in poverty, social issues, anger and laws that negatively affect our ability to maintain our cultural and traditional ways.
Over the years, we have begun to slowly gain our stewardship of the land back by way ...