First Nations In British Columbia


First Nations
D-03717, D-08267, D-08422,
E-00904, D-08311, E-00900,
This First Nations gallery includes aboriginal accounts as well as European ethnographic collections of stories in an attempt to describe certain historical aspects of British Columbia.

In some ways it is challenging to present balanced information about the history of British Columbia because the archival sources we have are predominantly created by white immigrants. This means that we often have to rely on non-aboriginal accounts and interpretations of the past, rather than having First Nations people speak in their own voices.

First Nations people have lived in what is now called British Columbia for many thousands of years before Europeans arrived a mere two hundred years ago.

The First Nations created no written records. Instead their beliefs, customs and history are recorded in their own oral traditions, the first hand descriptions of early European explorers and settlers, and in the archaeological record.

The First Nations have their own traditions of how they came to live in this land since the beginning of time, as mentioned by the renowned Haida artist Bill Reid.

"In the world today, there is a commonly held belief that, thousand of years ago, as the world counts time, Mongolian nomads crossed a land bridge to enter the western hemisphere, and became the people now known today as the American First Nations. The truth of course, is that Raven found our forefathers in a clamshell on a beach at Naikun. There is, it can be said, some scanty evidence to support the myth of the land bridge. But there is an enormous wealth of proof to confirm that the other truths are all valid."

Coull, C., A Traveller's Guide to Aboriginal B.C., Whitecap Books: Vancouver, 1996

The archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of today's First Nations people occupied British Columbia at least as early as the end of the last ice age, ten to twelve thousand years ago.

As the great ice sheet, up to a mile in thickness in some places, receded, people moved into the valleys and shorelines of the region. They lived by fishing, hunting, and gathering of materials needed for food, homes, clothing and tools.

Over time the indigenous peoples adapted to British Columbia's great variety of changing environments of geography, climate and resources. Eventually British Columbia was the homeland of the largest and most diverse population of Native peoples in Canada.