Artist: Dwayne Davis, 2012
Funded by: Friendship Society, Downtown Williams Lake BIA, City of Williams Lake
Dwayne conducted in-depth research at the local museum, online, and with people at the Friendship Society to make this mural as true to history as possible. Research was difficult as very little of the Secwepemc culture has been recorded. The garments worn by the figures picking berries are considered to be accurate by locals as well as the cedar or birch bark baskets they are holding. Other traditional regalia would have been buck skin and feathers or fur. Dwayne had input from many Elders who confirmed and collaborated on getting the details right, especially with the sweat lodge. Modern sweat lodge structures are much the same today, however, instead of hides tarps and blankets are now used. Dwayne remembers seeing the Tsilhqot’in people himself in the 70’s, scraping hides with a flattened hoe on wooden scaffolding as depicted in this mural. The salmon drying in the mural is laid out in Secwepemc style as opposed to Lillooet style. The end result is like a thin jerky. A local dip net builder made sure Dwayne got the dip net tool painted correctly. Depiction of Secwepemc culture’s day-to-day living before colonization. The scene is set behind the Fraser River by Soda Creek where the current Xatsull Heritage Village site is located. Man in foreground is holding a dip net, a tool for fishing that is still used today by the Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in First Nations in the Fraser. In the background are drying racks for fish and a sweat lodge made of hides. A woman is scraping a hide as it is stretched out on wooden scaffolding.
The painted mural area leads down into a lower entry space, beckoning the viewer to the bottom stair where they become surrounded by the mural. This was a unique opportunity, to paint outside and still have a surround-styled mural. Dwayne focused on making the corners of the space disappear, while merging the separate scenes into a panoramic whole. Two amateur artists, Miranda Fontaine (staff at Friendship Society) and Jamie Moore (summer student at Downtown Williams Lake BIA) helped to paint this mural.