RikkiSiya:mchess, Frank Malloway here, can you remember how old you were when you were stood up for being called an elder, and given your name?

FrankI think I got my name before they even classified me as an elder. I think I became an elder later than Jeff did, because Jeff started practicing our culture, you know, and learning our culture long before I did.

I think when I worked at Coqualeetza Cultural Centre, you know, it was … like all people say, my dad, he said, "Your trail in life is already set out for you. What they want you to learn, the trail is there, and don't question which way that trail goes."

You know, because, I went back to school, you know I had to leave school when I was 12 years old because I had tuberculosis, and I didn't go back to school when I got out of the hospital. So I only had a grade 6 education. But the work that I was doing required me to have a grade 12 education, so I went back to the Vancouver Community College to get my grade 12. But when I got out to go into the trade I wanted to go, there was a job opening at Coqualeetza Cultural Centre, and I went there.

And those were my teachers, the Coqualeetza elders. And I always looked up to them, that the elders, that their knowledge was not tainted by the residential school, because you look at all of them, they didn't go to residential school, and their teachers were their elders. So I got their teaching from them, you know, like reading an encyclopaedia.

RikkiYeah, it's fresh.

FrankYeah, fresh, not twisted, not changed or anything.

RikkiNot tainted, yeah.

FrankAnd today, you go to an elders' group, there's very few of them that have that knowledge. They call themselves "elders," but they don't have the knowledge of the history, they don't have knowledge of the culture, but they're old.


FrankSo I went to one meeting and I said, I gave a report to the chief, I says, "I went to the elders' meeting last week. You know, there's about a dozen people there, you know, but I think I've only seen two elders. The rest were senior citizens."


FrankAnd boy did I catch it when I, when I, you know-they really raised heck with me, you know. You know, because I look to us elders as somebody that's taught our culture, and our language, and our history.

And when I was at a gathering once, that we canoed a journey to New Westminster, we had elder Shane Point there. And he is very knowledgeable in his history and culture. He's from Musqueam and Nanaimo, and he always calls me "the old man, the old man Frank," you know, "old man Siya:mchess." And I had to explain to the people, you know, he had to get out and go and catch a ferry, so he wasn't there, and I had to explain to the people why he was calling me an old man, you know, and not an elder. And I said it wasn't long ago when one speaker had a definition of an elder as one of the issues. And they said, "You know what an elder is: the definition of a native elder is that he knows his history, he knows his culture, and he knows his language." And I told those leaders there, "I got two out of three anyway!"


FrankI know my history, I know my culture, but I don't know my language, so I'm not an elder. I know a lot, but I can't call myself an elder, because I don't know my own language. But, see, you know, but people still call us "elders", even though we don't know our language, they still call us "elders". But in the definition of an "elder", there's those three things.

And it's, I don't think, I was 45 before I was given my Indian name. And I had an older brother who should have been in line for that name, because it belonged to my grandfather, and it's usually passed on to your oldest son, but he was an alcoholic, and they would not put that name on him.

RikkiThat's right.

FrankSo they put it on me, but then it was only five, four years after that my brother sobered up, you know, and my dad couldn't find a name for him. He had to go where my great-grandmother was from, the Squamish nation, and he picked, he got a name from there, because it was related to my great-grandmother, and he took that name from Squamish. So that's the way things are, work out that way.

And it's very difficult to carry, you know, my grandfather's name, my great-grandfather's name. Well, not my great-grandfather, my great-great-great-grandfather. It was the two Siya:mchesses, you know. In the old Chilliwack language, it wasn't pronounced Siya:mchess, it was Chiamchus. But the language changed to the Fraser Valley, and they call it Siya:mchess.

So my first cousin from Nooksak, Washington, came over, and he said, "Uncle Vincent told me I could use these names, you know, is anybody carrying them?" And I looked at the list, you know, all of them are being used. But he said, "I wanted Poppa's name." I said, "I carry that, but I tell you, if you want to name your son, use the old language, and that's Chiamchus." He said, "Okay." So when he christened his son, they used the name "Chiamchus", but, you know, everybody knows where it comes from, it comes from …

And it was one of my nephews that said that the names of the four brothers from the Chilliwack tribe, he didn't want them to leave the Chilliwack tribe, and one of those names made it to Saanich. And he went down to see his grandfather, he says, "Why did you send that name to Saanich?" "I didn't send it to Saanich", he says. "It's there!" He says, "Well, I didn't know what you were talking about!"


FrankHe gave his daughter permission to put that name on her grandson.

RikkiOh, I see.

FrankAnd so my nephew went and told his auntie, "I'll let you take that name, but your grandson can't pass it on to anybody. It's got to come back to Chilliwack."


FrankSo those are the things that elders look after and watch, you know.

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