Honouring the Ancestors

The Great Songhees Potlatch of May 16-27, 1913. In 1911, the Songhees moved from their historic period reserve in the inner harbour (1844-1911) to a new reserve above Esquimalt Harbour where European style houses were built. At Maplebank, along the waterfront, five new buildings were constructed, commonly called Long Houses or Big Houses. These were a blend of both traditional and European style house construction, and used mostly for activities such as social gatherings and canoe building. Figure 1, shows the five new longhouses owned by: Left to right: Chief Michael Cooper; William Roberts; Jimmy Fraser; Jimmy Johnny; jointly owned by Alex Peter and Jack Dick. Chief Michael Cooper and representatives of Songhees families held a series of Potlatches over … Continue reading “Honouring the Ancestors”

Lekwungen Resources. Part 2. Birds

By Grant Keddie Introduction The Lekwungen needed to be keen observers of the natural world of which they are part. Knowledge of bird behaviour was important not only to secure them as a source of food, but also to inform them about where the fish resources were. Birds were an import feature of ceremonial and religious life which included everything from their display on clothing and masks, to the mimicking of bird behavior in dances, and their role as mythic ancestors. Bird names were given to months as both indicators of time or as important food sources in that month. Birds were imbedded in Lekwungen culture. There are around 390 species of birds sighted in the Greater Victoria Region, many … Continue reading “Lekwungen Resources. Part 2. Birds”

Bird Spears and Bird Arrows

Grant Keddie. 2023. Introduction The identification of bone projectile points found in archaeological sites that were used as components of bird spears and bird arrows are difficult to identify. This is due, in part, to the lack of Museum ethnographic examples with accurate documentation. Old traditional bird spears or arrows are rare in Museum collections. With the introduction of iron and the gun, the components of the spears and arrows changed and then they disappeared from use. Bird spears have several components: a shaft, a central bone point with up to five other bone points of several sizes or two bone points positioned at the same level on the distal end of the spear. Most of these are barbed but … Continue reading “Bird Spears and Bird Arrows”

A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum

By Grant Keddie. Nov 2016. 19th century photographic images in the Victoria region that show Lekwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations) undertaking traditional food gathering practices are rare. The only example of fishing is a photograph, taken in 1868, by Frederick Dally in Esquimalt harbour at the south entrance to Lang Cove (RBCM PN905). Lang Cove is located south of Skinner’s Cove, both of which are within the larger Constance Cove. This is the location of an ancient shellmidden as demonstrated by the scattered white clam shells seen in the image and later observed by the author at this location. This image (fig. 1 and close-up fig.2) of a man and woman at a herring fishing site is listed in … Continue reading “A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum”

Lekwungen Resources. Part 1. Fishing

Introduction Fishing was a major part of the traditional Lekwungen economy. The availability of some fish resources, however, changed on a decadal basis because of the changing water temperatures (Chevez et. al. 2003) and the intensity of important seasonal fish runs could vary over longer periods of time due to other climatic factors (Finney et. al. 2000 and 2002). There were times when the salmon runs did not arrive or drought conditions prevented them from running up local streams. People then had to refocus on other resources or starve. Although a few species of fish were often considered the most important, the old village sites reveal the remains of numerous species. Not enough analysis of fish remains from sites has … Continue reading “Lekwungen Resources. Part 1. Fishing”

Pallatsis. A Special Place in Lekwungen Tradition

By Grant Keddie. For the Indigenous Lekwungen of greater Victoria there are two special places associated with the acquiring of spirit power. One is at the Gorge waterfalls under the Tillicum bridge and one here in the downtown core of Victoria. This is the location of Songhees Point – the rocks sticking out into Victoria Harbour across from Laurel Point. Pallatsis (p’alac’as) “place of cradle” is the name given by Songhees Sophie Micheal and Ned Williams for Songhees Point In traditional culture the natural and supernatural worlds are inseparable; each is intrinsically a part of the other. Pallatsis, was a sacred place where people deposited the cradles of children who had reached the walking stage and put there to ensure … Continue reading “Pallatsis. A Special Place in Lekwungen Tradition”

Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria

July 22, 2019. By Grant Keddie. Introduction The Haida were among the many Indigenous northern visitors to Victoria after 1853. Many came to work to get trade goods or wages to purchase European commodities. The Haida visitors brought carvings they made on Haida Gwaii. Many of these were made of argillite, a stone unique to Haida Gwaii (see appendix 1, What is Argillite). Argillite was used primarily after 1810, there are only a few examples of argillite being used for labrets in ancient times (Keddie 1981). Argillite plates, platters, mugs, goblets, knives and forks became popular as the Haida copied the European-style tableware used by the settlers. The citizens of Fort Victoria enthusiastically purchased these. On July 21, 1859 the … Continue reading “Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria”

List and comments on Select Population References to the Lekungen (Songhees and Esquimalt Nations)

2005. By Grant Keddie (1) c. 1826-27 Census. Census of Indian Population compiled by Archibald McDonald, Fort Langley. In: Report to the Governor and Council, Feb. 25, 1830. H.B. Co. Archives, Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, D.4/123. Pub. 1979. In: The History of Fort Langley, 1827-96, by Mark K. Cullen, as Appendix A. Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History, Paper No. 20, National Historic Parks and Sites, Ottawa. The list for “Vancouver’s Island” moves geographically from the “Nanemoos” (Nanaimo) with 100 men; the “Cowaitchins” (Cowichan) with 200 men; the Sanutch (Saanich) with 60 men; the Tchanmus (Songhees) with 40 men; to the “Soaks” (Sooke) with 50 men. There is no mention of Klallam on Vancouver Island. The … Continue reading “List and comments on Select Population References to the Lekungen (Songhees and Esquimalt Nations)”

The Historic Village of the Clallum and Kosampson.

2012. By Grant Keddie James Teit, working with Clallum consultants in 1907-10, was told there was: “A village of them formerly in Victoria” and that “they were closely related to the Songhish” (Teit 1910). This location would be the “Clallam Village” referred to by the editor of the Weekly Victoria Gazette on August 28, 1858. It was located in the community of James Bay, west of the Legislative buildings and just to the east of Laurel Point. It can be estimated to have been occupied about 1847-1855. This village contained Clallam people from the Olympic Peninsula, and some of the Sapsom or Kosampson people of the 1850, Douglas Treaties. The Clallam may have located here by right of intermarriage with … Continue reading “The Historic Village of the Clallum and Kosampson.”

Clallam Mat Lodge

By Grant Keddie. 2013. Introduction The Victoria Harbour area, on Vancouver Island, is within the traditional territory of the Lekungen people who are represented by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. In 1843, the Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Camosun (later Fort Albert and Fort Victoria) in the Harbour. In the early days of this establishment (1843-1855), Clallam First Nations, from the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, set up camps during their trading and employment activities with the Fort. The location and nature of these camps has been a subject of some uncertainty. But, the location of one of the Clallam camps has been made clear by the finding of unique images located in the Royal … Continue reading “Clallam Mat Lodge”