By Jake Lewis
“Hi I’m Jake,” and for all intensive purposes that has been my mantra for the last two weeks.
I realize that just like my fellow field school students, I may be seen to represent more than just myself in that I come with the purpose of documenting the culture of the Splatsin, and I try to do a good job of it. But, to the people I have met, to the friends I have made; I hope all they see is Jake.
I have had some awkward moments, like the time Patrick and I mistook pine for cedar, or the time I broke Randy’s axe on the first chop – “Sorry again Randy”. When Randy asked for someone to help him chop wood I eagerly volunteered. Thirty seconds and one chop later I had broken the shaft of his axe in half. Needless to say I felt very bad, but Randy, in the same spirit as most of those I have met here, kindly laughed and tried to release me of my guilt. I replaced the axe, but I wouldn’t replace the experience of moving past my mistakes with the encouragement of the Splatsin people. It is in those awkward moments that I am growing both as an anthropologist and as a person.
Yes, there were some tentative first steps. In time we have been, I have been welcomed into people’s homes and people’s lives. It must not have been easy handling all of us, a herd of people, childlike in our naiveté (I dare not call us children because even the children of Splatsin have taken the time to teach us, and it would be disrespectful to them), and hungry to help and participate in any way. But, even our energetic ambition was handled with patience and a kind, albeit a little nervous, smile.
In my time in Splatsin, amongst your people, I have been blessed to share in and learn about a culture ancient and modern. Visiting with you has helped me to answer questions that I have been asking myself for a long time and raised questions that maybe I should have been asking. I hope that my interactions with anyone I have met will do them well. I will do all I can do to repay the kindness that I have received, but I feel as if I will always be indebted to the Splatsin and those individuals whom I have had the honor of meeting.