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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Great Great Grandfather Johnny Tselaxi'tsa

Meet my Great Great Grandfather Chief Johnny Tselaxi'tsa. Johnny and myself, are descendents of Chief Pelkamulox, "Rolls Over the Earth" who was born around 1675. After Rolls Over the Earth we get his son, born around 1705, and his son, all with the same name of Pelkamulox. Then we get Sapxena'lks, which was Chief N'kwala's favourite sister who died giving birth to my great great great Grandfather Tselaxi'tsa "Hanging Loose Robe" who was adopted by Chief N'kwala, who then gave birth to this boss Johnny "Standing Robe."

Johnny had Harriet my Great Grandmother, who had Susan, my grandmother, who had my father Harold, who then had me.

Johnny Tselaxi'tsa Standing Robe, was an incredible Chief known for his peacemaking and advocacy. I really love this photo of him, he has such a presence, so powerful and beautifully calm. My middle sister Karlene gave me one of my most favourite presents I've ever received - a printed copy of this photo and when I travel I take it with me. I take it with me to remind myself of where I come from, to root myself in the work of my people and to remind me that the ancestors are always with me, I know Johnny looks out for me.

Johnny was groomed for leadership, adopted at birth by Chief N'kwala who was an extraordinary leader. N'kwala was well respected by many and had influence over many Chiefs in the Interior Salish territories. N'kwala worked for peace and righteous justice for our people, he believed the settlers would do right by us and by in by Johnny was stewarded into this set of values and loyalty to his Father's policies, preventing all out wars against the settlers.

A part of me wishes they waged war but then I remember that they were evolving their own leadership practices as formidable orators and expert negotiators to better protect our peoples and that's a part of who I am now. Remembering them reminds me that I need to keep building my capacity to be that bridge between Indigenous peoples and settlers.

I'm on a plane headed to Odawa Algonquin territory. It's said that some Algonquin's practice Midewiwin, which is a spiritual practice that translates to "the way of the heart". I know my Grandpa's would be diligent about learning about the people of the places they visited, so I try to do the same. I spend 9 days on the Algonquin's territory and I hope to respect and hold their laws and ceremonies above my own while I'm a guest on their territory. My friend Lindsay is going to take me to the river near her place, I hear the Algonquin's are river people and make excellent birch canoes. I like rivers.

With the spirits of my ancestors and in servitude of my people,



To hear me speak about Johnny you can check out my Spider Web Show Thought Residency here.

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