Wet'suwet'en

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This page is for the people. For the language they speak, see Witsuwit'en.
Wet'suwet'en
Wet'suwet'en fishing on the Bulkley River
Total population
2,447 [2]
Regions with significant populations
Canada (British Columbia)
Languages
English, Babine-Witsuwit'en
Religion
Christianity, traditional beliefs
The Wet'suwet'en's bridge across the Bulkley River, Hagwilget, 1872

Wet'suwet'en (also known as Hwotsotenne, Witsuwit'en, Wetsuwet'en, Wets'uwet'en) are a First Nations people who live on the Bulkley River and around Broman Lake and Francois Lake in the northwestern Central Interior of British Columbia. The name they call themselves, Wet'suwet'en, means ″People of the Wa Dzun Kwuh River or Bulkley River″.[1]

The Wet'suwet'en are a branch of the Dakelh or Carrier people, and in combination with the Babine people have been referred to as the Western Carrier. They speak Witsuwit'en, a dialect of the Babine-Witsuwit'en language which, like its sister language Carrier, is a member of the Athabaskan family. Carrier is a colonial name for us we call our selves (wet'suwet'en).

Their oral history, called kungax, recounts that their ancestral village, Dizkle or Dzilke, once stood upstream from the Bulkley Canyon. This cluster of cedar houses on both sides of the river was said to be abandoned because of an omen of impending disaster. The exact location of the village has not yet been discovered.[2] The neighbouring Gitxsan people of the Hazelton area have a similar tale, though the village in their version is named Dimlahamid (Temlahan).[3][4]

The traditional government of the Wet'suwet'en comprises 13 hereditary chiefs, organized today as the Office of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en, or the Office of the Wet'suwet'en in BC government terminology (the government does not recognize their hereditary rights). The Office of the Hereditary Chiefs is the main political body of the Wet'suwet'en and is involved in the negotiating process for an eventual treaty with the British Columbia government. In the past, they were co-complainants in the Delgamuukw v. British Columbia case, which sought to establish recognition of the hereditary territorial rights of the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en Confederacy.[5]

Like most of the First Nations peoples of BC they have never signed a formal treaty and are in the process of negotiating a treaty now.[6]

Today's Wet'suwet'en First Nations[edit]

Carrier Sekani Tribal Council[7]

  • Wet'suwet'en First Nation (formerly known as Broman Lake Band or Broman Indian Lake Band, located outside of Burns Lake in the central interior of British Columbia. The main community is on Palling I.R. No. 1., The Wet’suwet’en First Nation was formerly part of the Omineca Band. In 1984 the Omineca Band split into the Broman Lake and Nee-Tahi-Buhn bands. The Skin Tayi band later split off from Nee-Tahi-Buhn, Reserves: Duncan Lake #2, Felix George #7, Foxy Creek #6, Gaichbin #8, Klagookchew #9, Maxan Creek #5, Maxan Lake #3, #4, Palling #1, Tatla West #11, Tsichgass #10, Population: 150)

Independent First Nations

  • Hagwilget Village First Nation[8] (Pronunciation: ′hag-will-git′, located in the village of Tse-kya meaning “base of rock”, Hagwilget - "place of the gentle or quiet people", as its known in Gitxsan, is located on east side of the Bulkley Canyon, near Hazelton) in central British Columbia about 325 km inland from the coast, Reserves: Bulkley #1, Hagwilget #1, ca. 1,6 km², Population: 724)
  • Moricetown Indian Band[9] (also known as Moricetown Band, is located in Moricetown, British Columbia, formerly known as Kyah Wiget or “Old town”, was at the falls of the Bulkley River were Moricetown is now, was the main village for the Bulkley River Carriers, 30 km west of Smithers and 32 km east of New Hazelton, BC, Reserves: Babine #17, #18, Bulkley River #19, Coryatsaqua (Moricetown) #2, Jean Baptiste #28, Moricetown #1, Oschawwinna #3, ca. 14 km², Population: 1,919)
  • Nee-Tahi-Buhn Band (Pronunciation: ′knee-tie-boon′, Nee-Tahi-Buhn is the name for François Lake, and means “it fills at one end and empties at the other”, therefore formerly called François Lake Tribe, In 1960 the Decker Lake, François Lake, Maxim Lake and Skin Tyee Bands merged to form the Omineca Band. In 1984 the Omineca Band divided into the Nee-Tahi-Buhn and Broman Lake Bands. In 2000 the Skin Tyee Band separated from the Nee Tahi Buhn Band, Reserves: Eastern Island #13, François Lake #7, Isaac (Gale Lake) #8, Omineca #1, Uncha Lake #13A, ca. 3,2 km², Population: 137)
  • Skin Tyee First Nation (Pronunciation: ′skin tye-ee′, also known as the Skin Tyee Indian Band, located in the Central Interior of British Columbia near François Lake, in the Omineca Country to the west of the City of Prince George, Reserves: Skins Lake #15, #16A, #16B, Tatla't East #2, Uncha Lake #13A, Western Island #14, ca. 4 km², Population: 166)

Clans[edit]

There are five Wet’suwet’en clans:

  • Gilseyhu (Big Frog)
  • Laksilyu (Small Frog)
  • Gitdumden (Wolf/Bear)
  • Laksamshu (Fireweed)
  • Tsayu (Beaver clan)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Witsuwit'en is the correct spelling in the writing system in general use. In non-technical publications it is usually misspelled as Wits'uwit'en, Wit'suwit'en, Wets'uwet'en, or Wet'suwet'en due to the difficulty of distinguishing glottalized [ts] from plain [ts] and official spellings with <ts'> and <t's> in the name of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and the Office of the Wet'suwet'en. In point of fact the [ts] is not glottalized. Older spellings include Hotsot'en and Hwotsot'en. Whutsowhut'en is the Carrier name in the Carrier Linguistic Committee writing system in general use for that language. In the feast hall they work as four clans with the Tsayu (Beaver) and Laksamshu (Fireweed) working together.

References[edit]

  1. ^ A History of the Wet'suwet'en Village of Tse-kya
  2. ^ [1] See also Rocher Déboulé Range.
  3. ^ [Death Feast at Dimlahamid, Terry Glavin]
  4. ^ [The Downfall of Temlahan, Marius Barbeau]
  5. ^ [Death Feast at Dimlahamid, Terry Glavin]
  6. ^ BC Treaty Net page
  7. ^ The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Society (CSTC)
  8. ^ Hagwilget Village First Nation
  9. ^ Moricetown Indian Band

External links[edit]