Nuxalkmc: the Nuxalk People
Above: Nuxalk Sun Mask, American Museum of Natural History. "The Nuxalk Nation is a small indigenous community of about 1300 individuals. These people are from various locations within Nuxalk Territory. They amalgamated after the smallpox epidemic in 1862. This territory is also known as Bella Coola Valley, a steep sided valley within the coastal temperate rainforest ecosystem of the central coast of British Columbia. The Nuxalkmc (Nuxalk People) have traditionally depended on a diverse and healthy diet based on salmon, other seafood, root vegetables and greens, wild berries and game from their home territories. Like other small coastal communities, the Nuxalkmc have encountered major economic and social change over the past two hundred years, and they have, as a group, incurred a myriad of health problems related to loss of traditional foods and altered life styles."
"Inherent strengths of traditional
knowledge provide the basis for physical, emotional, spiritual and physiological
health and well being. Today, as with many first nations, we are determined
to continue to hold onto what is not exploited, and in some cases have
been successful in holding corporations at bay. We have been fortunate
to have allies with like minded values and have shared victories. The
corporations have moved on and allies seek other assignments, however
Nuxalk Territory is home to the Nuxalkmc." Ray Morton: Ancestral
"The Echo Mask belongs to the Nuxalk People. The Echo Mask
is a ceremonial mask which was carved in 1860 by a Nuxalk master carver. The
mask is carved from alder. It has six interchangeable mouth pieces and has
it's original horse hair attached to the forehead. The Echo Mask Dance was
performed as recently as 1995 at a Winter Ceremony."
Acwsalcta – Place of Learning
Today the Nuxalk language is taught at Acwsalcta School and that Nuxalk place names are relearned. New generations of Nuxalk children are taught to appreciate traditional foods, such as a freshly caught giant crab (right). The Rediscovery Camp educates younger Nuxalkmc by visiting ancient ancestral sites. "Despite the government tactics to erase a Nuxalk identity, we remain dedicated to protecting our ways of life, our language, and our ties to our families and Ancestral Territory, as did our grandparents before us" Nuxalk Band Council.
Right: The 40 ft totem pole
at the Acwsalcta School was raised in 2007. It was carved from a 600
year old cedar tree by Alvin Mack and his son Lyle.
Nuxalkmc Children, Snuxyaltwa Totem Pole Raising 2009