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Stanley Park History and Archaeology

The Vancouver Sun has printed an extensive aboriginal and archaeological history of Stanley Park. The article comes on the heals of the Sun’s coverage of how winter storms may have damaged archaeological sites in the park. (Alternate link.)


UBC Professor Bruce Miller asks the Sun to correct a misquoting of his interview:

Coast Salish peoples are not organized into clans as are northern groups such as the Haida and Tlingit,” Miller writes. “To clarify another critical point: Coast Salish peoples historically have held concepts of ownership.

(Vancouver Sun, March 23, 2007, page A10.)

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One Comment

  1. Victor Guerin wrote:

    One of my relatives forwarded a copy of Tad McIlwraith’s article and I replied to her in the form of a rebuttal to his article. I’ve copied and pasted my reply below:

    Hi Trudi,

    Interesting article. Thanks for sending this.

    The fact that J.S. Matthews’ interviews with August Jack et al are still being cited as historically accurate is a constant source of exasperation. August Jack and his half-brother, Dominic Charlie, were born of different Squamish fathers. Their mother, her name escapes me at the moment, was Musqueam. The aboriginal rights they asserted to land and resources south of Howe Sound originated with her. However, as individuals indoctrinated in European customs, they attributed those rights to their respective Squamish fathers.

    The Sun article you’ve sent is accurate to a certain extent in the manner by which it depicts the relationships between Coast Salish people in and around Burrard Inlet. The people that have become known, by their association with Federal Government Reserves established for them, as Tsleil-Wau-Tuth (or Burrard), Musqueam, Tsawassen, Katzie, Fort Langley, Coquitlam and others on southeast Vancouver Island and the adjacent Gulf Islands and eastward in the Fraser Valley originally spoke a language known to anthropologists, thanks to Charles Hill-Tout, by the name of it’s upriver dialect, Halkomelem (Halqemeylem by the peoples’ chosen spelling). Our dialect is known as h@n’q’@mi’num’ and was spoken by people inhabiting Burrard Inlet, Indian Arm, Port Moody, the lower Fraser Valley and locales adjacent to those bodies of water while the southeast Vancouver Island dialect is known as h@l’q’@mi’n@m’.

    In the time predating the arrival of Europeans and well into the historic period, the people that spoke this language and several closely related languages operated to a great extent as one people and regarded themselves as such. For those that are apprised of their oral history, this continues into the present day.

    Our separation and confinement to the small parcels of land now known as ‘Indian Reserves’ has created a perception of us, in the contemporary context, as separate communities or even ‘nations’. The non-aboriginal government practice of dealing with us separately in relation to our local government initiatives and land claims sets us up as adversaries to each other and detracts from our ability to deal effectively with the issues faced by our people.

    In the collective situation of the Central Coast Salish, the issue referenced by the federal and provincial governments as ‘overlapping claims’ is not quite as big a hurdle if viewed from the traditional aboriginal perspective. The issues of shared territories and resources are addressed in the pre-contact societal construct with the exception of ‘Squamish’.

    Prior to European arrival, the Squamish and h@n’q’@mi’num’ speaking people were on friendly terms, but not as closely associated as the h@n’q’@mi’num’ speaking people were with each other. The Squamish participated in resource harvest south of Howe Sound by permission of the h@n’q’@mi’num’ speaking people, but didn’t ‘winter’ south of Howe Sound. When Fort Langley was established, some of them established a camp adjacent to the fort for trading purposes, again, by permission of the h@n’q’@mi’num’ speaking people in whose territory the fort was built. At some time in the course of their use of the camp site beside the fort, they got involved in a dispute whereupon a European was slain and the HBC Factor at the fort was in the midst of arranging to have them annihilated. At some point in the progression of this set of circumstances, a member of the local clergy and an agent of the federal crown were alerted and intervened. The HBC Factor relented from his course of action on the condition that this group of Squamish be removed from the vicinity of the fort. The Squamish at the fort campsite were queried as to potential sites to which they might be relocated. xwm@lc’th@n, the name of the village now known as the Capilano Indian Reserve was suggested. Their leader demurred at the suggestion of that location citing the fact that the people at xwm@lc’th@n had been there for a very, very long time and they could not presume to impose themselves there. The Burrard Indian Reserve and other locations were also rejected as prospective relocation sites for the same reasons. Eventually, a medial location in Burrard Inlet was decided upon for an interim period until such time as the clergy and government agents could lobby the legislative authorities for the establishment of an officially recognized reserve for them at that location. The lobby of legislative authorities on behalf of that particular group of people was initiated contingent upon their agreement to abandon their aboriginal practices and adopt ‘proper and civilized Christian values’. This series of events culminated in the establishment of the Mission Indian Reserve on the northern shore of Burrard Inlet.

    As European initiated industry began to strengthen and build, lumber mills, salteries, fish canneries and all sorts of businesses began to spring up in Burrard Inlet. Aboriginal people from all over the world began to avail themselves of the opportunities that presented themselves there. By the mid-19th century, the Squamish, having established a legally recognized base in Burrard Inlet, began to ‘winter’ there in increasing numbers and participate in the economic opportunities offered by European activity as well.

    Many individuals from the newly established ‘Indian Bands’ emerged as strong proponents of aboriginal political issues. One of these was Mr. Andrew Paull, a Mission Indian Reserve resident of h@n’q’@mi’n@m’ and Squamish descent, who established himself as a paralegal. Mr. Paull began a campaign, ca. 1920, among bands in Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound to amalgamate into an allied political unit. In 1923, Mr. Paull was successful in securing the agreement of 16 bands that then amalgamated to become the entity known today as the Squamish Indian Band or ‘First Nation’. Some of the bands that merged into this entity were actual Squamish speaking bands from Howe Sound as well as the Mission Indian Band now of Burrard Inlet, but, the majority were, in fact, h@n’q’@mi’num’ speaking groups with ancestral ties to the territory south of Howe Sound. The Tsleil-Wau-Tuth (then Burrard Indian Band) First Nation was approached to become a part of that amalgamation, but declined. Nor did any of the adjacent h@n’q’@mi’n@m’ speaking groups, Musqueam, Coquitlam, Katzie, Fort Langley and Tsawassen, join in the amalgamation.

    The aboriginal populace of this region have always, and continue to intermingle with each other and the Squamish people and the amalgamated entity that emerged in the 1920’s are no exception.

    There are some points contained in the Vancouver Sun article that beg further clarification. Throughout the article there are aboriginal place names, again, some of which are Squamish language in origin. That’s to be expected when people begin to dwell in a particular area for a generation or more. However, most originate from our own language. Beginning with the 2nd paragraph there’s the place name rendered as /Chaythoos/, then in the 23rd paragraph are the ones rendered as /Ch’elxwa7elch/ and /Oxachu/. Those three place names have their origin in the original Squamish language. The most obvious proof of this is the presence of the binary symbolization seen as /ch/ or/ch’/. When pronounced by a speaker of the Squamish language this is recognizable as a sound akin to the /ch/ sound in the English word ‘cheat’, but pronounced with marked and audible glottalization or explosiveness in layman’s terms. With regard to the terms that originate from our language, I reserve analysis for a more controlled forum for evidentiary purposes.

    In regard to the various points in the article where reference is made to Squamish people dwelling on the Stanley Park Peninsula, these involve either the contemporized Squamish people as described above or are erroneous in their reference to the people as Squamish people. One example of an erroneous reference appears in the 15th paragraph. This is portrayed as a citation from Capt. George Vancouver’s journals. However, when we examine the relevant entry to Vancouver’s journals, we see that he does not refer to those he encountered as ‘Squamish’, but simply as ‘Indians’. Our oral history tells us that the man that led this party in greeting Vancouver’s expedition was the man known to our people as the great warrior leader whose name has come to be known in it’s Anglicized form Capilano.

    With regard to the quotes from Tsleil-Wau-Tuth spokesman Leonard George, he’s quite right, his and our people are very closely tied and were and are two of the groups that share aboriginal rights and title in Burrard Inlet. We were originally as one people with mobility between our communities and surrounding communities. And yes, just as he says, we both have blood ties among the Squamish. But other nations around the world have blood ties to each other as well. That doesn’t alter their territorial rights.

    I’m glad you sent me this memo Trudi, I’m going to take this info and transfer it to the reply form to the Vancouver Sun contained in your second e-mail.

    Thank you,

    Victor Guerin, Coordinator
    Musqueam Language and
    Culture Programme
    6735 Salish Dr.
    Vancouver, B.C. V6N 4C4
    Ph.: (604) 263-3261
    Toll free: 1-866-282-3261
    Fax: (604) 263-4212

    Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] Guerin, Coordinator of the Musqueam Language and Culture Programme, has written a lengthy rebuttal and reply to the March 17, 2007 Vancouver Sun article about the archaeology of Stanley Park. His statement is […]