Esk’etemc Sun & Moon Structure – Introduction

The Sun & Moon structure is to recognize and honour our peoples' ancient oral history (tseptékwll) and markings (stsq'eý) depicted in our ancestors' rock carvings throughout Esk'etemculucw (the land of the Esk'etemc) and Secwepemculecw (the land of the Secwepemc nation).


discussing carving layout on log 1


Zooly Johnson planning her pictograph carvings - (this project is inspired by Zooly and her passion for Secwepemc pictographs)


Wes Dick painting carvings on log 1

The elders taught us that the ancient markings on the land, supported by the stories connected to them, symbolize Secwepemc law - rock paintings or pictographs are called "stsq'eý", saying "yerí7 re stsq'eýs" ("it is written or marked") and "yerí7 re stsqéýctels le q7es te qelmúcw" ("this is what the people long ago marked/wrote for us")[1]


the model - cedar slabs will hold carved animal clans 

About the Structure

Sun and moon, day and night, life and death

The structure is shaped as a half circle, 7 log pillars, it will be positioned west to east on the land, following the rising and setting of the sun.
Each log steps up from night to day.
Starting from the shortest log on the west side: it honours our ancestors and their pictographs: the markings carved on the posts include those marking the loss from smallpox-  a dark part of our history.
As we start rising, the logs in between will represent some of the family clans now - sqlu7úw'i - beaver, mélemst'ye - wolf, kenkéknem/skemcís - black bear/grizzly bear, sníne - owl, spel'qwéqs - eagle - and who we are as a people.
The 7th log on the east side will represent the future, the sun - markings on this log are designed by stsmemelt (children) from Sxoxomic School - who are our future. 
enches will be built-in to this main structure, and along with additional benches and a picnic table, each with story carvings.

Our project is a strategic opportunity for the Esk'etemc community to boost mentorship and build skills among our emerging artists while honouring the rich history of ancient arts and culture in our territory - our Sun and Moon Project is a culturally-relevant log structure, and is generously supported by the BC Arts Council.


ceremony, smudge and prayer at project begin

Project Team

Robert Johnson, design/project lead
Zooly Johnson, carving/trainee furniture builder
Phillip Robbins Jr, animal clans carving
Rosaire Wes Dick, carving/carpentry apprentice
Greg Harry, log work expertise/artist
Bettina Johnson, project coordinator

You can view the photo gallery here.

We are aiming for completion of the structure by the end of June.
- be sure to follow Esk'etemc News for updates on this and other exciting projects!

by Bettina Johnson, May 27, 2019

reference: [1] Marianne Ignace and Ronald E. Ignace, (2017) Secwepemc People, Land and Laws

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