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SKEENA COUNTRY

 

Welcome Song

This page is dedicated to the heritage of our adopted children, Melvin, Ian and Melanie, who have brought us great blessing and joy.  Their people are the Kwakiutl (Kwagiulth) people, who inhabit the northern end of Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  The northern arm then extends up through the Douglas Channel to Kitamaat Village. Kitimaat means "people of the snow".  I hope you enjoy your visit!
 
 
 

HISTORY OF KWAKWAKA'WAKW PEOPLE

 

The Kwakwaka'wakw people occupied the northern corner of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, from Johnstone Strait to Cape Cook, and the mainland coast from Douglas Channel to Bute Inlet, except a small portion controlled by the Bella Coola.    The material culture of these coastal people relied mainly on heavy shoals of salmon that spawned the many creeks and rivers each year.  They also relied heavily on the abundant stands of free grained cedar trees.   The salmon was their food source for the year and the cedar provided timber for dwellings, canoes and household utensils.  Even the bark was able to be used for clothing and mats.

The coast of British Columbia is a maze of inlets, fjords, bays and islands.  It is along these waterways that Canada's First Peoples lived, traveled and traded with other Coastal Tribes.  The area is rich in history and culture of the different Coastal Nations.

When Europeans arrived in the 1770s, there were at least fifteen languages spoken on the coast, belonging to the five distinct language families.  Every region had its own languages, traditions and distinctive identities.  Many of these dialects are lost or no longer spoken, but attempts are being made to preserve the surviving languages before they too, disappear.

The area in red shows the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation
 

CANOES
 

The coastal peoples' canoes were carved and cut from large red cedar trees which were of a straight grain.  Canoes were of different sizes ranging from smaller fishing and sealing crafts to large seagoing vessels that carried whalers beyond the sight of land.  Today, the canoe has of course been replaced by the "motorized plant boats", but many First Peoples of the Pacific Coast now use the canoe in cultural festivals.  The West Coast style canoe was largely used on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.   It is a graceful craft with the bow carved to suggest the head of an animal, and it sweeps upwards in a gentle curve from the bottom of the flattened hull to the prow.  The stern is nearly vertical with a small, elevated platform.  The West Coast style canoe are well designed and well suited for travel on the open sea.
 
 
 

NATIVE GROUPS

 

Canada's First Nations number just over one million people (about 4% of the overall population) and live in virtually all areas of the country.  There are 11 separate language families, which make up 53 spoken, distinct indigenous languages.  There are seven major culture areas:  Algonikian (Easter and Central Woodlands), Iroquoian (Southeastern Ontario), MacKenzie River (MacKenzie River system and woodlands north of the Churchill River), Plains (Canadian prairies), Plateau (interior plateau of British Columbia and Yukon), Pacific Coast (coast of British columbia) and Arctic (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Labrador).  The Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) are part of the Pacific Coast people.
 

 

A LINE IN THE SAND
 


Seagull by Sue Coleman

 

Cultural property includes not only land and other tangible property, but ideas, traditions, and other non tangibles.  Cultural property belongs to the cultural group, rather than to an individual.  As an individual has the right to control use of his/her property, the cultural group has the right to control the use of its property.  Not all people recognize cultural property.  As a result some individuals will use another group's cultural properties without permission; often that use is offensive to the cultural group, because their property is used in a way that distorts or is disrespectful to the group's beliefs.     Author Unknown
   

     Legends and Stories

    Tales of Kitimaat Village

     Mask and Ceremonies

    Shields, Awards and Links

    Spirit Bear


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