Snewíyalh tl’a Stakw (five movements)

by T. Patrick Carraré

Home 9 Composers 9 TEACHINGS OF THE WATER – Snewíyalh tl’a Staḵw

featuring Elektra Women’s Choir directed by Morna Edmundson
enjoy the video below

1. Keksín ti syatshn (The Natural World): The meaning of the title (all of us in the same basket) reveals our relationship to one another, while the text eslhelhá7kwhiws (how everything is connected) shows that we are also related to the natural world. Water nourishes the land, and the land gives us medicine. Rivers and creeks are like our veins – they carry water to the heart of the earth and nurture the plants and animals.

2. Kwis na xwey (Birth): The title, “when you were born”, conveys the belief that birth is sacred because we all come from the water found in our mother’s womb.

3. Shúkw’em (Ceremony): In Coast Salish communities, shúkw’em (spiritual cleansing) is often performed in different contexts by women who brush or cleanse with wet cedar boughs, otherwise known as xwip’i7án in the Sḵwxwú7mesh language.
4. Slúlum (Song): Traditionally, family members owned water songs and these songs were passed on to teach cultural values and beliefs. The words lúlum (to sing) and slúlumcht (our song) signify the purpose of song in building relationships and teaching water ethics. Personal power songs are often received when Coast Salish people are in or around water.

5. Úxwumixw (Identity): While water teaches us about identity in terms of the village and family from which someone comes, it also shows us our place in the world. The phrase i7xw wa méymeýem (everything is a ripple) exemplifies that human beings are not dominant over the natural world – we are but a ‘ripple’.


Click here for a detailed Pronunciation Guide (text)

Click here for a Pronunciation Guide (video)






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SSAA a cappella – CP 2325

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Cypress makes rehearsal tracks for choirs – here is a demo

Rehearsal Tracks – Snewíyalh tl’a Stakw (all 5 tracks)

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Jump to any Movement (which are available separately)

  1. Keksín ti syatshn (The Natural World)
  2. Kwis na xwey (Birth)
  3. Shúkw’em (Ceremony)
  4. Slúlum (Song)
  5. Úxwumixw (Identity)