Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe

I will be using the Sqilxw Apna acquired “Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe” by Dr. Shawn Brigman more this year as I continue to research “Sqilxw Woman”
It is one thing to assume we know what it is to be an indigenous woman but without our architecture or “built environments” as Shawn says, as colonized women we are that – an english label as representation of Sqilxw. Looking beyond Indigenous and focusing on specifically what makes Sqilxw thought “sqilxw” I explore the notion of ‘belonging’ to these implements rather than owning them as property.

The Salishan Sturgeon Nose canoe came as a research vessel to inform Northern Sqilxw of our connection to place in Secewepemc, Syilx, Sinixt territories as reflected in the genealogy of myself and other OKIB band members. To wake up our memories of our deep connections to bark canoes. With the exception of few old ethographies, the use of bark canoes has all been lost to my community. Instead we inherited generations of loggers – my family included.

For me, this anthropomorphic canoe falls into a theme of captikwl – animal story driven experiences that can be used as tools to transmit beliefs and values through storytelling. How do we introduce a Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe to new waters? This question has presented itself to me as being metaphors for visitor protocol. It is from these beginnings that Shawn’s recovery practice has enabled new thought processes to occur to be observed through an Indigenous performance theory lens, to experience dimensional awareness and feel a time warp between the then and now.
– Mariel Belanger
Sqilxw Woman, not canoe specialist – canoe performance artist


Shawn Brigman Ph.D., is the Owner of Salishan Art and Architecture,and makes the Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoes.

Shawn is an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians and descendant of regional Salish bands (San Poil, Arrow Lakes, Colville, and Shuswap). As a traditional artisan for 11+ years, Shawn has continuously been involved in a diverse array of high caliber cultural recovery projects dating back to 2005. During this time he worked on project based ancestral recovery efforts in Eastern Washington State, North Idaho, and British Columbia, exploring and transforming the way people read Plateau architectural space by celebrating the physical revival of ancestral Plateau architectural heritage.

This involves working with communities to connect to sources of indigenous knowledge, often taking them out to ancestral lands to explore and gather materialities for ancestral structures like tule mat lodges, pit houses, and most recently sturgeon nose canoes.

Sturgeon nose canoe shapes, construction techniques, and other characteristics are generated from centuries old local patterns. Although there is diversity within the styles of northern Plateau sturgeon nose canoes, the principles of construction are the same and often the styles overlap with only subtle differences.

Salishan Art and Architecture
Salish School: Huckleberry Canoe

Indigenizing the Built Environment
Indigenizing the Built Environment 2


Read through the Implements, Michelle Jack PhD and Mariel Belanger pages to learn more.

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