«Amazay Lake Photo by Patrice Halley Draft Submission to the Kemess North Joint Review Panel May, 2007 Report Prepared By: Loraine Littlefield Linda ...»
1.2 A Word From The Lawyers This report is a draft report only. It was prepared within a very short time frame with very limited resources. It is not intended to be a complete or comprehensive history or ethnography of the Tse Keh Nay. Nor is it a complete or comprehensive report on Tse Keh Nay use, management, occupation, ownership or rights and title relating to this area. This report is without prejudice to aboriginal rights and title but one or all of the Tse Keh Nay Nations may choose to use all or part of this draft report in court if necessary.
1.3 Preparation of this Report
Unless otherwise noted, this report was prepared by Dr. Loraine Littlefield, Deidre Cullon and Linda Dorricott 1. Dr. Littlefield is responsible for the overall accuracy of the report and for any expert opinions expressed in the main section. Other reports, by other authors, are appended to this submission. Maps were produced by Michelle Lochhead and SLV Mapping.
1.4 Tse Keh Nay People
Tse Keh Nay represent three groups of the Sekani 2 people, who live in the Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia. The term Sekani means “people of the rocks” or “people of the mountains”. There have been many variants of this name (Denniston 1981:440). In the written record it came into general use by the first quarter of the 19th century when the name ‘Sicaunie’ was used by Daniel Harmon, a fur trader who travelled in the region, to describe the people of the Finlay-Parsnip watershed (Harmon 2006). The spelling of ‘Sekani’ was adopted at the turn of the century and has been accepted by by anthropologists. The Tse Keh Nay have recently adopted this different spelling, more linked to the Photo 1: Thutade Lake, by Chief John Allen French true sounds of their name.
See Appendix H for the C.V.s of the report authors.
The terms Tse Keh Nay and Sekani are used in this report. ‘Tse Keh Nay’ is a political term that is used to refer to the three Nations working collaboratively in the Joint Panel review process (Takla First Nation, Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nation). The term ‘Sekani’ is used to refer to all groups who consider themselves, or who have been considered to be part of a larger group of people who speak the language, known to linguists, as Sekani.
The Tse Keh Nay consider themselves to be the original inhabitants of this region. Harmon (2006) and others (Morice 1895; Jenness 1937) speculated that because of similarities, the Sekani were once part of the Beaver Indians who lived to the east on the lower part of the Peace River and that they were recent immigrants. Most certainly the language of the Tse Keh Nay belongs to the Beaver-Sarcee-Sekani branch of Athapaskan and is mutually intelligible, indicating a close relationship at some point in history. However, Harris (1984:35) suggests that “that there is no evidence to support a recent migration into the Finlay-Parsnip watershed of all the Sekani bands….” Neither is a recent migration supported by Tse Keh Nay oral history and it is clear that when Samuel Black explored Sekani territory in 1824, the Tse Keh Nay fully occupied, used and managed a territory that included the lands, waters and resources in the Amazay/Thutade/ Kemess area (Denniston 1981: 435).
The Tse Keh Nay include the Kwadacha, the Tsay Keh Dene, and the Takla Lake First Nations. Following is a brief profile of their communities today.
1.5 The Communities The Kwadacha people live at Fort Ware at the confluence of the Finlay and Fox Rivers. They have three reserves. The largest is at Fort Ware (958 acres) where many Kwadacha people live; the other two are small fishing stations on nearby lakes. The community is located 70 kilometres north of the Tsay Keh Dene community. Fort Ware is considered one of the most isolated communities in British Columbia as it takes from ten to twelve hours, depending, on road and weather conditions, to travel from Fort Ware to Prince George.
The population of the Kwadacha First Nation is 220 of which more than 50% are 25 years and younger. At Fort Ware the Kwadacha have a store, a restaurant, a recreation centre, a school with elementary and high school grades, and a daycare with a headstart program. They are in the process of building a new church as their old church burnt down a few years ago. The community also has an airport.
The Kwadacha participate in seasonal employment in the resource industries and a few continue to trap and live on their land. Some members are also employed in administration, education and other services for the community. To date there is little economic development in the community aside from a joint forestry project with Tsay Keh Dene.
The Tsay Keh Dene, formerly known as the Ingenika, live at the north end of the Williston Reservoir in the community of Tsay Keh Dene. It is located approximately 430 kilometres north of Prince George, a nine to eleven hour drive on logging roads. The total population of the Nation is 377 and approximately 200 live on reserve.
The creation of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Williston Reservoir in the late 1960s flooded their lands and displaced the Tsay Keh Dene from their former village sites. The majority are presently living on crown land. The facilities at Tsay Keh Dene include a school which only goes to grade nine. Students who wish to complete their education must move to Prince George. An RCMP detachment in the community serves the McKenzie region including Kwadacha. The Tsay Keh Dene administration offices are at Prince George.
The Tsay Keh Dene also depend upon seasonal employment in the resource extraction industries which provides some full time employment. A few individuals maintain traplines in the area. Economic development is primarily linked to the forest industry. Tsay Keh Dene Forestry Ltd. has joint ventures with Kwadacha and two local forestry companies for construction, harvesting and silviculture. Contracts for the work are divided among the Bands and it is estimated that more than fifty percent of the workers are employed full time with this company. The company is hoping to expand into log home building and log construction training programs.
The Takla Lake First Nation (TLFN) has a population of approximately 700 people. The Nation has 17 reserves totaling approximately 2, 000 acres. The First Nation has been waiting for more than 30 years for Canada to replace reserve land that was taken by the predecessor of B.C. Rail. Under an agreement made in the 1970s, Canada is required to turn over 860.79 acres but has not yet done so.
Takla’s main village, Takla Landing, is situated on the northeast shore of Takla Lake. The village is isolated, accessible only by 260 kilometres of logging road from Fort St. James.
Other Takla communities in the area include Manson Creek, Bulkley House and Germansen Landing. In the 1950s many of the Bear Lake people who occupied the area around the old Hudson’s Bay Company post relocated to Takla Landing and in 1959 the Bear Lake and North Takla Lake Bands amalgamated. A number of Takla members still live on the land in their territory for at least part of the year. Most facilities are located at Takla Landing and include a band office, school (elementary), community hall, store, hotel, gymnasium, teacherage, clinic, church and elders' centre.
Logging is the primary economic activity of the Takla Lake First Nation. The Nation is a partner in Sustut Holdings which has a Takla Sustut tree farm license. The Nation owns the Takla Development Corporation which has invested in commercial property in Prince George.
The Corporation has a forest license, operates a log loading facility in the Takla Lake area and is involved in road construction and freighting. Other ongoing economic initiatives include a sawmill which cuts local orders, a store, a lodge and charter aircraft service. Some Band members are also involved in guiding.
1.6 Regional Bands, Kinship and Marriage The three Tse Keh Nay communities are closely related to each other through their social political structure and through kinship and marriage.
Traditionally the Sekani lived in small hunting and gathering bands 3 that moved across the land in a seasonal cycle. Anthropologists identify three socio-territorial groups for hunting The term ‘band’ here is used in the anthropological sense and should not be confused with the 1876 Indian Act definition of ‘band’ with an imposed chief and council form of leadership. The creation of the Takla Lake Band, and gathering people: the regional band, the local band and the task group (Helm 1968, Vanstone 1974). Membership in these units was not mutually exclusive and an individual
could and usually did identify with all three groups. Vanstone states that:
The regional band exploited the total range of the band [sic] as identified by tradition and use. It utilized all the resources within the range, and this total territory provided sufficient food and other resources to sustain life except during periodic famines. Therefore the regional band could exist for many generations (1974:45).
He goes on to state:
Most of the time, the various families making up the regional band were dispersed in smaller units. Regional band members, however, were related through a network of primary affinal [marriage] and consanguinal [blood] ties.
(Vanstone 1974:46) In 1924, anthropologist Diamond Jenness described the geographic ranges of four such
regional bands: the Tsekani, the Yutuwichan, the Sasuchan and the Tseloni:
(1) Tsekani (tsekani, Fort McLeod dialect; tsekenna, Fort Grahame dialect): “ Rock or Mountain People, ” who occupied the country from McLeod lake south to the divide, and east to the edge of the prairies.
(2) Yutuwichan (Fort McLeod dialect; yutuuchan, Fort Grahame dialect): the meaning of the name is uncertain, but one conjecture of the natives was “Lake People.” This band occupied the country from the north end of McLeod Lake down Parsnip and Peace rivers to Rocky Mountain canyon; westward it extended to the headwaters of Manson and Nation rivers, including in its territory Carp Lake and the upper reaches of Salmon River.
(3) Sasuchan (sasutten or sasuchan, Fort McLeod dialect; sasuchan, Fort Grahame dialect): “People of the Black Bear.” The territory of this band covered all the basin of Finlay River from the mouth of the Omineca north and west, including Thutade and Bear lakes.
(4) Tseloni: “People of the End of the Rock or Mountain.” The territory of this band comprised the plateau country between the headwaters of the Finlay and the Liard; the Fox in its upper reaches, and the Kechika or Muddy River, flow through the centre of the band’s domain, but the exact boundaries are uncertain.
(Jenness, 1937:11) Tsay Keh Dene Band, and the Kwadacha Band by the Department of Indian Affairs is a construct for administrative purposes and not based on traditional political structure.
Sekani, 1850 4 Jenness notes that the Thutade Lake area was within the geographic region of the Sasuchan regional band. This band amalgamated with the Tseloni regional band in 1890 when Fort Grahame was established. At this time two more regional bands emerged: the T’lotona or “Long Grass Indians” formed by intermarriage between the Sasuchan and Gitksan who occupied the groundhog country of the upper Stikine and Skeena rivers; and the Davie band, which originated from a union between a French trapper and a Tseloni woman (Denniston 1981:434).
According to the Tseh Keh Dene today, the Sekani include the “Tsay-Sa-Ut Sas-Chu-Ch-an Tsay Kehnnay, Cl-Owa-T-oh, Tsay-L-oh-nay, Tsa-U Tsay-T-oh, U-Chu-Ch-an, and there are others” (Izony n.d.:6).
Throughout the 20th century the regional bands continued to combine, split off and form again to become the present day Sekani bands, including the Takla Lake First Nation, the Tsay Keh Dene and the Kwadacha Band. The historic linkages between these groups remain to this day in spite of the continual attempts of the Department of Indian Affairs to make administratively convenient groupings and the displacement of village sites caused by the creation of the Williston Reservoir.
Chapman and Turner, 1956: Map 12.
The following chart shows the history of these relationships.
The families in the three communities continue to be linked through kinship and intermarriage. Many of them can trace their lines back to common ancestors who were Fort Grahame Tse Keh Nay. Today families in the three communities acknowledge that they are related to each other and have rights to the Thutade Lake area. For example, members of the Patrick family who now live at Takla Lake are descendants of the Fort Grahame Sekanis (Dewhirst 1995). The Pierre family who lives at Tsay Keh Dene is also linked to the Thutade region. Many Kwadacha families maintain that they came from the Fort Grahame and Bear Lake regions. The Poole family at Kwadacha has ancestors who lived at Fort Grahame and Adapted from Vanden Berg, 2000.
Denniston (1981) and Lanoue (1983) explain that during the early part of a young man’s life, he would hunt, fish and gather with his family in the territory of his parents. This territory included both his mother’s and father’s family territories. Once married, he hunted with his wife’s family until the birth of their first child. At this time he could, and often did, return to his parents’ territories. Throughout his life he had the option of hunting the territory of his own parents or his wife’s parents, giving him potential access to four different territories.
Lanoue (1983), in his research with the Kwadacha, noted that a further option existed later in the life of a hunter. Frequently a senior hunter might partner with his younger sisters’ husbands, potentially giving him access to the territories of all his brothers-in-law.
A woman also had access to a number of territories through her parents or her husband. A young woman would stay with her own domestic group until after she married and gave birth to her first child. Then she would accompany her husband as he hunted in his parents’ territories.