Musqueam Indian Band

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Territory claimed by the Musqueam Indian Band

The Musqueam Indian Band is a First Nations band government in the Canadian province of British Columbia and is the only First Nations band whose reserve community lies within the boundaries of the City of Vancouver.


The name Musqueam relates to the grass məθkʷəy̓ which grew in throughout the community of Musqueam. It was noted that in some periods the məθkʷəy̓ grass flourished, and in some periods it could scarcely be found. It was also noted that in some periods the Musqueam people would flourish and in some periods the population would dwindle, perhaps by a plague or war. In this way the people became known as the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm or Musqueam.[1]


The Musqueam are the oldest-known residents of Vancouver. The Great Marpole Midden[2] (also known as the Eburne Site, or Great Fraser Midden), is an ancient Musqueam village and burial site located in the Marpole neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. Also known as the Great Fraser Midden, a thousands-year old deposit of skeletal remains, artefacts, stone and wooden tools, artwork and shells.[1] The village itself was known as c̓əsnaʔəm.[3] Formerly there was a second residential area near the current one, maləy̓, known in English as Mahlie.[4]

Musqueam’s ancestors, the Coast Salish have lived in the Fraser River estuary for thousands of years. Their traditional territory encompasses the lands, lakes and streams defined and included by a line commencing at Harvey Creek in Howe Sound and proceeding Eastward to the height of land and continuing on the height of land around the entire watershed draining into English Bay, Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm; South along the height of land between Coquitlam River and Brunette River to the Fraser River, across to the South or left bank of the Fraser River and proceeding downstream taking in the left Bank of the main stream and the South Arm to the sea, including all those intervening lands, islands and waters back along the sea shore to Harvey Creek, and the sea, its reefs, flats, tidal lands and islands adjacent to the above described land and out to the centre of Georgia Strait.[citation needed]

The area of the Musqueam Reserve is the closest Hudson's Bay Company explorer Simon Fraser made it to the Strait of Georgia; he was driven back by hostile Musqueam who had had bad experiences with white men on ships just previously. The chief Whattlekainum of the Kwantlen warned Fraser of an impending attack which is said to have saved his life.


Their traditional language is hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the Downriver Dialect of the Salishan language Halkomelem, and they are closely related to neighbouring peoples of the lower Fraser River. The nearby Kwantlen and Katzie peoples just upriver share the same Hun'qumi'num' dialect, while the upriver Sto:lo people speak another dialect, Halq’əméyləm (known as the Upriver Dialect). The Cowichan, Chemainus, Snuneymuxw and neighbouring Coast Salish peoples peoples of Vancouver Island and the parts of the Gulf Islands of the southern Gulf of Georgia speak another dialect, Hul'qumi'num' (usually spelled Hulquminum), often called the Straits dialect, or Island Halkomelem, but not to be confused with North Straits Salish, which is a group of related dialects to the south. Musqueam is currently the centre of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ revitalization.

The xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam dialect, hən̓q̓əmin̓əm is from the Hul’q’umi’num’/Halq'eméyle/hən̓q̓əmin̓əm language family.[5]

Indian Reserves

Indian Reserves under the administration of the band are:[6]

  • Musqueam Indian Reserve No. 2, at the mouth of the Fraser River to the north of Sea Island, 190.40 ha.[7]Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
  • Musqueam Indian Reserve No. 4, to the east of Canoe Passage near Westham Island, 57.30 ha.[8]Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
  • Sea Island Indian Reserve 3, on the northwest corner of Sea Island, 6.50 ha.[9]Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.

The former Musqueam Indian Reserve No. 1, known in Hunquminum as qiqéyt, in Halqemeylem as Qiqayt, and often anglicized historically as Kikait, is now named the New Westminster Indian Reserve and in recent times was allocated to the fledgling Qayqayt First Nation after many years of not being attached to any band.

Miscellaneous Dates

  • In 1952, Musqueam elected the youngest Chief and Council ever in Canada.
  • Musqueam elected one of the first female Chiefs and first female Councillors in Canada
  • Musqueam was one of the first to assume delegated authority of Sections 53/60 of the Indian Act to assume control over reserve lands.
  • Musqueam was one of the first to assume membership authority in Section 10 of the Indian Act.



External links

Further reading

  • Dunkley, Katharine. Indian Rights and Federal Responsibilities: Supreme Court Musqueam Decision. [Ottawa]: Library of Parliament, Research Branch, 1985.
  • Guerin, Arnold, and J. V. Powell. Hunq̓umỉn̉um ̉= Musqueam Language. Book 1. [Vancouver, B.C.?]: Musqueam Band, 1975.
  • Johnson, Elizabeth Lominska, Jeff, and Kathryn N. Bernick. Hands of Our Ancestors: The Revival of Salish Weaving at Musqueam. [Vancouver?]: University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology, 1986. ISBN 0-88865-108-2
  • Suttles, Wayne P. Musqueam Reference Grammar. First Nations languages. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7748-1002-5
  • Weightman, Barbara Ann. The Musqueam Reserve: A Case Study of the Indian Social Milieu in an Urban Environment. Seattle, Wash: University of Washington, 1978.