The Xaxli’p First Nation was seeking a cultural assessment of its Transformer Rock at Np’esp’ás, a monolith that has stood on the territory overlooking the Fraser Canyon since time immemorial and represents a spiritual entity for the St’át’imc people. In recent decades, industrial activity combined with natural geological erosion had contributed to the degradation of the rock’s structural integrity.
The Crossroads team made three visits to meet with the community and its elders, prepared a literature review, conducted site visits, and participated in a community information session. We wanted to get a sense of the emotions surrounding the rock, which the Xaxli’p nation views as its ancestors turned to stone. Everyone involved — the legal and geotechnical components, as well as the band’s Lands and Resources Department — approached this project not through the standard resource-management lens, but through a cultural lens.
Crossroads facilitated a three-day Cultural Resource Management Training Program accredited by the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, a course that was attended by 14 participants from Xaxli’p and surrounding communities, with the Transformer Rock used as a case study. Through this study, we were also able to provide an archaeological overview on the Transformer Rock that informed our report to the nation. In June 2017, we submitted our assessment with not just of a superficial understanding of the rock’s importance, but with a deeper understanding that what stands there and its meaning to the Xaxli’p First Nation.