Traditions We Still Practice Today

There are numerous traditions we still practice.  They are too numerous to list in their entirety, and some of our most sacred and spiritual practices we do not disclose.  However, here are some of our more well-known traditions.

Elders Welcome

Special guests are paid tribute by our Elders through a uniquely Cowichan welcome. The guests are blanketed and scarves are put around their heads, and led in by a procession of Elders – also blanketed and scarved – while singing and drumming in the traditional style.

Blanketing Ceremony

Blanketing is accorded special significance in our society. There are different types of blanketing. A blanketing ceremony shows our respect for those who have made an important contribution to our community in some way. The respected guest is draped with special blankets in front of witnesses, and it is theirs to keep.

Chiefs Meeting with Blankets

Witnessing

Historically, because ours was an oral society so there were no signed documents, members of the audience officially witnessed all significant agreements. The Speaker – whose role is that similar to a Master of Ceremonies – would call upon individuals to be the official witnesses to the agreement. Traditionally it would be two people from each village. To be a witness was a very important role: they would become the official record keepers; they would stand up at the end of the ceremony and provide their views; they would correct the discussion at future meetings; and they were obliged to pass on the details of the agreement to subsequent generations. They were considered very rich because knowledge was the most valued of all possessions.

Today we have formal signing agreements but we retain the practice of calling upon witnesses to officially observe the proceedings. Often non-Cowichan’s are also asked to participate and we hope they honour our tradition of faithfully passing on the story.