First Nations Heritage
For thousands of years, the South Chilcotin Mountains have played a vital role in the rich traditions and livelihood of the First Nations. These mountains fall within the territory of three Nations: St’at’imc, Tsilhqo’tin, and Secwepemc. While these First Nations each have their own traditions and culture specific to the area they reside. They have been a nomadic people with a hunter gatherer lifestyle in step with wilderness and nature through all four seasons.
A rich heritage
The First Nations that have lived in the South Chilcotin Mountains have maintained deep ties to the land throughout countless generations. These original inhabitants of the territory lived nomadic lifestyles, following the wildlife and the snowline throughout the seasons. The native trails allowed the First Nations to travel both on horse and by foot to seasonal hunting grounds and harvest sites of wild edibles. In the high country, Cardtable and Eldorado Mountain were prime locations for harvesting wild potatoes. They also harvested other bulbs and wild edibles, such as balsamroot, wild onion, dandelion, and prickly-pear cactus. According to native traditions, many of the berries the First Nations harvested, such as Kinnikinnick, soapberry, chokecherry, and saskatoon, were also used for their medicinal qualities. For the St’at’imc Nation, the Fraser River’s salmon run provided lasting sustenance for the winter and a prized item for trade with neighboring nations.
Throughout traditional times, many communities thrived in this territory. T’at’lh, the ancient village from which the word St’at’imc likely originated, was situated on Keatley Creek. Later on, there were other communities throughout the region, including Sat’ in modern day Lillooet, Xwisten at the mouth of the Bridge River, and Tsal’alh and Sk’amqain at Seton Lake. Native trails throughout this territory allowed the settlements to maintain meaningful connections through trade, marriages, and political allegiance. In every season and transition in these mountains, however, the First Nations were united through something much greater: their connection to the land as a hunter gather and in tune with the cycles of nature.
The tradition lives on
Today, native traditions and connection with the land live on in the South Chilcotin Mountains. Through many changes and challenges over the past centuries, the First Nations have continued their relationship with the land. The St’at’imc continue to be ucwalmicw (the people of the land). Through subsistence hunting, fishing, harvesting of wild edibles and gathering of medical plants, the St’at’imc pass on native traditions from the elders to the next generation. And throughout the South Chilcotin Mountains, the native trails that the First Nations once traversed form much of the present trail system in the park. These native trails allow people from around the world, to walk in the footsteps of the First Nations and discover the wilderness that cultivated their rich heritage.
Explorers, prospectors, trappers, hunting guides and ranchers have all shared this wilderness area over the last 200 years. Chilcotin Holidays shares the wilderness and nature of the Chilcotin Mountains with people from around the world are still amazed by the wilderness and nature’s values of the area today.