The history of the Pacific Northwest is rife with stories of conflict between loggers and environmentalists, Indigenous Peoples and government-backed corporations. Many of them have ended in violence, arrests and clear-cutting. Between 1997 and 2007 Farm License 38, encompassing Sims Creek in the upper Elaho Valley became the site of a wholly different kind of protest. Because of the actions of ten thousand people brought together by Squamish Nation Hereditary Chief Bill Williams, artist Nancy Bleck and the late mountaineer John Clarke, this land – a 50,000-hectare section of the Squamish First Nation now known as Wild Spirit Places – was saved. It was a stunning example of how welcoming people to the land, showing them its physical and spiritual wealth and allowing them to experience it themselves transformed the way they saw it. And by quietly, cumulatively building a critical mass of people who had seen – witnessed – this land firsthand and come to view it as important; the Uts'am/Witness Project provided a new way for peacefully mobilizing people and preserving land from logging.
Picturing Transformation is the story of Uts'am/Witness, a series of camping weekends held at Sims Creek that brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to walk, sleep, eat, make art, have conversations and participate in ceremonies on this disputed land. Through the words and photos of those who attended, this beautiful book pays homage to the power that people with strong vision and a common purpose can play in honoring tradition, safeguarding land and changing policy. It is a lesson in the possibilities for resolving conflict peacefully, now and in the future.