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”

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”

Stone Cultural Feature in Thunderbird Park

By Grant Keddie.  22-02-2013. Introduction At the Royal B.C. Museum, in Victoria, British Columbia, a large natural stone with a shallow concave surface can be seen outside in the native plant garden near the North-East corner of Thunderbird Park (Figure 1 & 2).     This is a cultural object associated with First Nations that was once located south of Kamloops in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. The recorded details of its history are somewhat confusing. The natural shallow depression on the top of the rock fills with water when it rains, often forming unique patterns on the surface of the water. One could speculate that it may have been used like a mirror (Figure 3). During light rainfalls, … Continue reading “Stone Cultural Feature in Thunderbird Park”

Victoria. A Place of Strong Fibre

Originally published in Discovery, 1993:3. Summer 1993. By Grant Keddie In April 1843, native people were hired to cut posts for the walls of the first non­native buildings on the southern tip of Vancouver Island: Fort Camosun. They were given a 2’/2-point Hudson’s Bay blanket for every 40 posts, each measuring 3 feet in diameter by 22 feet long (1×7 m). On I June, about 40 men and 3 officers from the Hudson’s Bay Company began building the fort. The fort was initially referred to as Fort Camosun, and then between 6 August and 4 December as Fort Albert, in spite of an official letter dated 14 April from the Hudson’s Bay Company, which refers to the general location as: … Continue reading “Victoria. A Place of Strong Fibre”

Installation of a Songhees Chief

Originally published in Discovery, 20(1). Winter 1992. By Grant Keddie The Museum’s Anthropology photograph collection contains many photos whose subject and time remain a mystery. Recently, I put together a series of five undocumented photographs (four are shown in this article) from different parts of the collection that seemed to be related to the same event. A little detective work revealed that the photos documented the visit of the Governor-General of Canada to Victoria in 1927. As the highest ranking representative of the Crown, he was anointed as an honourary Indian chief. The information sources I located added to my knowledge of an earlier Indian history before the coming of Europeans … a history which I will reveal here in … Continue reading “Installation of a Songhees Chief”

David Latasse

David Latasse. Of Saanich and Songhees Heritage Piecing together Outsiders Views 2016. By Grant Keddie David Latasse was a Tsartlip (W_JOLELP) First Nation. They are part of the Saanich (W_SANEC) peoples whose territory is centered on the Saanich Peninsula and southern Gulf Islands. Latasse gained notoriety from 1927-1936 as a speaker in his native language at ceremonies, the subject of an early movie maker and as a source of information via translators for newspaper reporters and at least one anthropologist. He was born about 1858-1863 and died May 2, 1936. For most of his life he lived near his mother’s relatives on the Tartlip Reserve located on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria. We are fortunate to have letter that was dictated by Latasse himself and addressed to the … Continue reading “David Latasse”

The Victoria Smallpox Epidemic of 1862

By Grant Keddie Preface One of the great tragedies in the History of British Columbia was the smallpox epidemic of 1862-63, which killed thousands of Indigenous peoples. A previous pandemic spreading across northern North America from the western Atlantic coast hit British Columbia around 1780, before non-Indigenous settlement in the region. Estimates from other documented areas would suggest that at least 80% of the population may have died from this first introduction of smallpox into the region. This massive interruption would have resulted in the re-alignment of Indigenous societies. In early 1853, a smallpox epidemic spread from the Columbia River to Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, causing a heavy death toll in that area. George Gibbs … Continue reading “The Victoria Smallpox Epidemic of 1862”