Tsilhqot’in Nation

We, the Tsilhqot’in Nation, or People of the River,  have occupied our ancestral nen (land) since time immemorial.  We have never ceded or surrendered our rights or title to our Territory.  We depend on clean lakes and rivers that carry wild fish, and we have a sacred responsibility to protect our lands and waters for future generations.  Our future is as firmly tied to the nen as our past.  We will continue to sustain our communities from our nen and resources and in doing so ensure the survival of our culture and the Tsilhqot’in language.

The Tsilhqot’in have a deep ancestral connection to Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and Nabas, and the courts of British Columbia have affirmed our Aboriginal rights to hunt, trap and trade throughout this area, based on the defining importance of these practices to our culture, in this very location, from before contact with Europeans to the present day.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is made up of six Tsilhqot’in communities: Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government (Nemiah), Yunesit’in (Stone), Tl’esqox (Toosey Band), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek), and ?Esdilagh (Alexandria).  The Teztan Biny/Nabas watershed falls within the caretaker area of Xeni Gwet’in and Yunesit’in.

Territory

Tsilhqot'in Territory showing Teztan Biny, Yanah Biny and Nabas

Tsilhqot’in Territory showing Teztan Biny, Yanah Biny and Nabas

Tsilhqot’in nen (land or territory) encompasses the “Chilcotin” plateau, in what is now British Columbia, Canada.  Our Territory extends from the Coast Mountains to the east side of the Fraser River.  The Chezqox (Chilcotin River) flows into the Fraser River.  The Dasiqox (Taseko River) and Tsilhqox (Chilko River) in turn feed the Chezqox, and these headwaters begin in beautiful glaciated mountains and some of Canada’s largest high elevation lakes.  Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) lie less than 2 km from the Dasiqox, and form part of its headwaters.  This water eventually drains in to the Fraser River and enters the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver.

Tsilhqot’in Culture

To this day, the Tsilhqot’in people have a strong traditional culture, including language. Many of our Elders do not speak English, and we continue our traditional practices of hunting and trapping,  fishing for salmon, trout and other species, and gathering traditional foods, teas and medicines.  Closely tied to these activities are a cultural education for our youth, spiritual ceremonies, and sharing with others on the land, including our First Nation neighbours and non-First Nations.  Special intact areas like Teztan Biny and its environs are vital to transmit our culture to future generations.  Many Tsilhqot’in members were born and raised in this area, and loved ones are laid to rest there.

In the Chilcotin War of 1864, our War Chiefs stopped the construction of a road from Bute Inlet into our territory to facilitate the gold rush.  They did so because of threats of small pox against our people and to protect our lands from incursion.  Our Chiefs were arrested by the colonial government under false pretenses and subsequently tried and hanged.  To this day, we carry this sacrifice close to our hearts, honouring the Chiefs that gave their lives to protect our lands and our Tsilhqot’in way of life.  Today, we face the same threat, and we are unwavering in our commitment to uphold our responsibility to our ancestors and to our future generations of Tsilhqot’in people.