Names and their
histories connect Nuxalkmc to their culture and to Nuxalk Lands and identities.
Family lineages are connected with their villages of origin through names
that were held by someone before. Rediscovering and
reclaiming Nuxalk place names for geographical locations is a political
act of sovereignty that can be used in legal cases to assert Aboriginal
Title and Rights.
Above: Albert Hood, b. 1894.
Left: Felicity Walkus dancing.
Felicity performed in a singing group with Agnes Edgar,
Margaret Siwallace and Dan Nelson. They could sing about 15 traditional
Nuxalk Sisawk and Kusiyut songs. In 1972 and 1973 this group, led by
Felicity, won the Songhees Festival in Victoria as the best native performing
group in BC.
Begat and Niixutsayc Family Reunion
Right: Mercy Snow and grandchild, 2011. The Snuxyaltwa (Snow) connection to Begat and Niixutsayc is through our grandmother Flossie Andy (nee Webber), mother of Mercy. Niixutsayc had 21 children from her first marriage and no children from her marriage with Willie Johnson, a fisherman from the Port Hardy area who drowned while out gillnetting.
Left: Children performing
at the Begat and Niixutsayc
Family Reunion hosted by Snuxyaltwa Family at Bella Coola on 27
August 2011. The historic family
reunion celebrated the reunited family members of Niixutsayc (Annie
Johnson), Begat (Johnny Quilt) and Joe Siwallace. It was an occasion
to honour our traditions and celebrate the twins
of two First Nations coming together after many years apart.
The fraternal twins Niixulsayc and Begat were separated as newborns in a tragedy in
the village of Kimsquit. During
the 19th century the British navy enforced colonial law by acts of genocide.
In 1877 a British gunboat attacked the Nuxalkmc at Kimsquit village, taking
prisoners and and destroying their homes. Begat was rescued by the Quilt family.
Niixutsayc went to live and start a family in the Bella Coola Valley,
Begat moved to Nemiah Valley. Both family trees grew strong over the
years but neither group knew about the connection until recently.
Right: Nuxalk singers
and dancers perform the Simon Johnson Honour Song, asking the Creator
to bless and reunite the families. The first gathering of
the descendants of Niixutsayc and the descendants of Begat occurred in
the Bella Coola Valley five years ago. This is the second reunion. "Family
is really important,"
says Eila Quilt, descendant of Johnny Quilt, "Today - to reunite and
get to know our family is amazing and over whelming. I see a lot of potential
here today. To see our children dancing, to see both cultures together
and the pride in our youth, I am overwhelmed. . . Our family is reconnecting,
both to each other and to Mother Earth. We are growing stronger, in every
Leftt: Chief Marilyn Baptiste
singing at the Begat and Niixutsayc
Reunion. Descendants of Johnny Quilt are part of
the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation. They include Chief Baptiste,
who said; "It
is really nice to hear everyone's stories and to learn about our similarities
- to know who the families are, and were we come from. We're filling
in the gaps in who our relations are."
Above: Sixilaaxayc (Noel Pootlass). North of Sts'kiilh is Mount Pootlass (right), a glaciated summit between Nieumiamus Creek and Necleetsconnay River, named for the ancient Pootlass Family village.
Above: Nuxalk Village of Sts'kiilh. This is the ancestral
village of Head Hereditary Chief Nuximlayc (Lawrence Pootlass, father
of Noel Pootlass and brother of Archie Pootlass). He is a descendant
of Chief Alex Pootlass, Chief Sam (King) Pootlass and Big Chief Adam