Creekstone Press

Northern BC's publisher

Creekstone Press Publications

Excerpts from Song of the Earth: The Life of Alfred Joseph

Alfred was spared the ordeal of attending residential school until he was twelve years old. This meant that he did not have to endure the total indoctrination others faced at a younger, more vulnerable point in their lives. More importantly, it also meant he was able to spend those early, receptive years immersed in his language and surrounded by elders who had lived most of their lives according to the seasonal rounds established by their ancestors.

In the 30s and 40s, Hagwilget was like Victoria – a place where people retire. Trappers had houses here. Long Charlie from Stellaquo had a house here. In the summer, people came from all over – Babine, Bear Lake. … Families came from Babine at the end of June. My friends from Babine would spend all summer here.

There was a regular tent city beside the buildings. Each group had their own songs. The songs they sang were different. The medicine men had their own songs. The secret society had their own songs. The high chiefs was a different group again, all their songs were different.Those elders had their own hit parades. You know those small pieces of paper that used to list the popular songs. They had their own list in their head. After they sang it, they would explain the history of it. Who made it and for what reason, like a stone was put up, or a pole. Each had its own beat and its own name.

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