The Broughton Archipelago is a maze of channels, islands, islets, narrow twisting passages and very few people. However, it is not completely uninhabited. During the first three-quarters of the 20th century, First Nations villages and European settlements were found in much greater numbers than currently. Most of the European settlements were on floats, not on cleared land, and I'll write about them in another post. For today, I thought I'd tell you about some of the First Nations peoples who have lived here for thousands of years.
We visited New Vancouver, also known as Tsatsisnukwomi, which means "Eel grass along the shore." The village is currently occupied by members of the Glendale family, whose grandfather wanted his family to live traditionally, and to not lose the old ways. There are 8 homes, a variety of outbuildings, a dock, and a Big House, seen in the bottom right photo above. A young woman gave us a tour of the village, and told us her family's story. We were permitted to enter the Big House where ceremonies occur such as potlatches occur. The sweet fragrance of cedar filled the building. Regalia and special carvings are kept there and she explained each one's significance.
On Village Island, within sight of Tsatsisnukwomi, is the empty village of 'Mamkwamlis, also known as Mamalilikulla. Here one can see the tangles of blackberries and salal bushes encroaching upon the old buildings. Along the foreshore, remnants of the stilts that once supported houses weaken with each rise and fall of the tide.
M. Wylie Blanchet, author of The Curve of Time, was a widow who explored this area in the 1930s with her 5 children and a dog. If you can find a copy of her book, you're in for a fascinating read. There's another book called Following the Curve of Time in which Cathy Converse retraces Blanchet's travels. It's also excellent.
We spent another pleasant morning exploring the Burdwood Group, a cluster of small islands and rocky islets between Raleigh and Hornet Passages. It's a popular place for kayakers with a number of white shell beaches where First Nations peoples once harvested clams. The white beaches are composed of millions of fragments of clamshells.
The top right hand photo shows a culturally modified tree. A strip of bark is taken from the cedar tree for traditional basketry and other handicrafts. The trees continue to survive. There's a rough trail across the island that gave us a bit of exercise.
We saw five bears during our trip - always at low tide on rocky beaches. The bears turned over great rocks with a toss of their front legs looking for sea creatures trapped underneath. Fascinating to watch from the safety of the boat. I wrote about an encounter with a mother bear and her cub while hiking a few years ago, and I had no wish to relive the experience. We did very little hiking on this trip.
I'll leave you with a photo of wildflowers - fireweed and tansy ragwort, bright spots of colour against the unending green forest.
Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.