The Katzie Treaty Team
website will inform and educate its members and the general public on
its vital and historic treaty negotiations with Canada and British
10946 Katzie Road,
PART I: Genesis - A Synopsis
To express a traditional view of territory and relations with neighboring peoples, the Katzie First Nation is fortunate among First Nations for its possession of a written record of its history and its laws from the time of creation. This record is in the form of a verbatim account, related by the great
Peter Pierre to anthropologist Diamond Jenness in 1936,
when Peter Pierre was 75 years old, which was later published as The faith of a Coast Salish Indian
During his childhood, Peter Pierre had been chosen among those of his generation to carry a variety of traditional responsibilities. His training began at the age of three; by
the time he was eight years old, he was deemed ready to begin his training in the skills of a medicine-person and in the skills necessary to maintain the oral history of the Katzie people. His education began under the guidance of three elders that his mother had hired for this purpose. By the time he was fourteen years old, Peter Pierre was already a practicing medicine person. Throughout his life, he continued in his vocation, administering to the sick among the Coast Salish tribes, as far away as Cowichan.
Peter’s son Simon acted as an interpreter for his father in his work. In later life, Simon Pierre was a central figure in attempts by BC First Nations to resolve the “Indian Land Question,” traveling to London as an interpreter for a delegation of BC Chiefs. He was also instrumental in assisting tribal leaders throughout the BC Coast in protests against the Federal “potlatch law.”
Simon Pierre later took up the work that his father had begun, furthering the work of establishing a written record of Katzie culture, traditions, and customary law; most particularly in his work with anthropologist
Wayne Suttles, beginning in 1952, culminating in the memoir, Katzie Ethnographic Notes, which was combined and published with
Jenness's The faith of a Coast Salish Indian.
The contributors of Peter Pierre and Simon Pierre have been confirmed and elaborated upon by several elders interviewed during the course of research.
The Katzie First Nation once comprised at least ten villages throughout the territory. The Katzie First Nation derives its name from the Halkomelem word for a type of moss, and it is also the name of an ancient village site in the immediate vicinity of the Katzie Indian Reserve at Pitt Meadows. The only other Katzie village sites permanently occupied at the time of this writing are the Katzie reserves at Barnston Island and at Yorkson Creek in Langley.
The people now known as the Katzie First Nation were granted rights and title to their territory and their resources by the Creator, by
Khaals, by their first Chiefs and from the reiteration of customs from time out of mind.
Long before the emergence of any other human community in the Lower Fraser region, the Creator placed five communities, each with its own chief, at different locations on the Land. Those locations are now known as Pitt Lake, Sheridan Hill, Port Hammond, Point Roberts and Point Grey.
The Katzie people are the direct descendants of these first people. The people came to be known as the Katzie people descend primarily from
Oe’lecten and his people, created at the south shore of Pitt Lake, and
Swaneset and his people, created at Sheridan Hill.
Xwoe’pecten and his people, created at Port Hammond, joined with Swaneset’s people at Katzie, but later moved to what is now New Westminster and gave rise to the people now known as the Kwantlen people.
Smakwec and his people, created at Point Roberts, and their history, lands, resources, and culture were closely linked to those of the Katzie people. The descendants of Smakwec and his people are many, but many have vanished. The Nicomekl, as a distinct people, vanished in the time of the smallpox epidemic of the 1700s.
C’simlenexw and his people, created at Point Grey, are the principle ancestors of the people now known as the Musqueam.
During these first days after the arrival of human beings, there were few trees, and although there were clams and mussels in the rivers and along the seashore, there was no wind and there were no birds, land animals, sturgeon, salmon, oolichan, seals or sea lions. The Creator gave these first five leaders gifts and powers to bequeath to those that followed after them.
When he placed Swaneset on the earth, the Creator provided the sun and the moon. For Oe’lecten, the Creator provided the seasons and the rainbow. Smakwec was granted power over all the underground channels that connected Point Roberts with Pitt Lake, Sechelt, and other places.
Xwoe’pecten and his people were given no special powers. C’simlenexw was given the powers of the Swayxway mask. Oe’lecten was then granted a wife, and their children, became the sturgeon and a white bird that can be seen only
by Oe’lecten’s descendents. Oe’lecten’s people first settled in villages at Fox Creek, Widgeon Creek and at the southwest corner of Pitt Lake, a village occupied until recently, presently known
as Katzie I.R #4.
Swaneset, honoring the Creator’s instructions to finish making the territory surrounding the place he had been set down on earth, reshaped the land in order to make it abundant in berry and root crops. Standing on the peak of Sheridan Hill, which was once the highest mountain in the territory, Swaneset called on the help of the Creator and made Sturgeon Slough and its tributaries.
He then made the Alouette River and other sloughs, including Katzie Slough. Swaneset then named all these waterways and named the river now known as the Fraser. After a time, Swaneset traveled to the sky and returned to earth with a wife, setting down again on the peak of Sheridan Hill. From the pieces of Sheridan Hill, Swaneset created many of the distinctive hills that mark the countryside between the Fraser River and Pitt Lake. When Swaneset had finished reshaping the land to make it abundant for his people, he then instructed all his people to gather at Katzie to make homes for themselves there, in the vicinity of the present Pitt Meadows reserve. There on the banks of the Fraser River, his sky-born wife opened her dowry box and ushered oolichan and seagulls into this world, and she taught the people how to catch the fish and prepare them.
By this time, the descendants of the first people had multiplied and flourished and their descendants were establishing villages throughout the land. Swaneset encountered some of these villages in his travels downriver, during his journey to the island in the sea where he married his second wife. This woman was the daughter of a chief whose people who were different from all other people on the earth. These were sockeye people. Swaneset brought his new wife back to Katzie and in securing his relationship through marriage to the sockeye people, Swaneset assured Katzie people an abundance of sockeye for the coming generations. Since that time Katzie people have fished sockeye and other salmon species from a variety of fishing stations and seasonal villages along the Fraser, Pitt, and Aloutette rivers.
What is clear from the outset of the Genesis is that the descendants of Oe’lecten and
Swaneset - the Katzie people - established themselves as the first and only human communities throughout the entire Pitt watershed, including the Alouette watershed and portions of land adjacent to the Fraser River.
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Follow these links for:
Part II: The Intervention of Khaals
Part III: Cultural Sources of Katzie
Title and Rights
Part IV: The Nature of Katzie Title and