Mike Retasket’s impressive career as a champion for sharing Indigenous culture and history is surpassed only by his devotion to the land he calls home.
“Right now I’m standing on what I stand for, and what I stand for, I’m standing right on it.”
Respecting the land is a key part of Mike’s philosophy, saying, “If you come to a territory, you always leave the land better than when you found it and that lesson needs to be taught over and over again. It needs to be taught until we get it, and we leave the land better than when we found it.”
Sharing the history of Indigenous people and their connection to the land is Mike’s passion, and is something he undertakes regularly throughout the Cariboo. From smudging ceremonies and traditional powwow dancing in full regalia at Xatśūll Heritage Village to sharing stories with visitors at Historic Barkerville Town & Park, Mike focuses not only on heritage, tradition, and culture but also strikes a delicate balance of teaching about the history of Indigenous people in the province.
“…to figure out a way to be able to share the sad history of what happened to the Indian people of the province of British Columbia, to figure out a way to share that history without laying guilt, shame, or blame on anyone…once you have that figured out it’s really easy to do and it’s so much more effective than any other way I’ve tried to communicate some of the sad events that have happened throughout our time.”
Why visit the Cariboo? Mike touts the wide range of Indigenous sites and experiences throughout the region, “The sky is the limit. There are historical sites all over the place, many including the Xatśūll heritage site or the Historic Hat Creek Ranch, places like that that are so beautiful and rich with culture and with history as well.”
Above all, Mike’s commitment to his people and to the land shines through in all that he says and does.
“…my heart feels good about the work that I do when I can stand as tall as the trees and as deeply rooted as the trees in my land and territory. But we all have a lot of work to do and when I can share pieces of our culture and our heritage values is so important to me.”