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Tsilkotin Tribe

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Tsilkotin Indians, Tsilkotin People, Tsilkotin First Nation (‘people of young-man’s river’). An Athapascan tribe of British Columbia, occupying a territory lying chiefly in the valley of Chilcotin River at about lat. 52°. Their nearest relatives are the Takulli, or Carriers, whose territory is adjacent on the north, and who are the only Athapascan people with whom they come in contact. Toward the west a pass leads through the Coast range to Bellacoola, and intercourse with the tribe of that name, which was formerly frequent1 is still kept up to some extent. In early days there was also some communication with the Kwakiutl of Knights Inlet on the south west. On the east the Tsilkotin are separated from the Shuswap by Fraser river, and do not hold very intimate relations with that people. In earlier times the two tribes were constantly at war, the Tsilkotin invading their country and penetrating as far as Similkarneen Valley, whose inhabitants are descended from the invaders, who compelled the Salish to make peace and permit intermarriage. Even today there is a decided undercurrent of suspicion between the Tsilkotin and the Shuswap. Toward the south their nearest neighbors are the Lillooet, but contact between the two tribes is slight.

In former times, and down to about 1865, the center of territory and population of the Tsilkotin was Anahem Lake; and from here they covered a considerable extent of country, the principal points of gathering being Tatlah, Puntze, and Chizäikut lakes. They ranged as far south as Chilco Lake, and at the time of salmon fishing were accustomed to move in large numbers down to Chilcotin River, to a point near the present Anahem Reservation, always returning to their homes as soon as the season was past. More recently they have been brought to the eastward, and today the chief centers of the tribe are three reservations in the valley of the Chilcotin – Anahem, Stone, Risky Creek – and the Carrier Reservation at Alexandria, on Fraser River, where a few Tsilkotin families reside. Besides these there are a number of families leading a semi nomadic life in the old tribal territory, in the woods and mountains to the westward. These latter Indians, considerably less influenced by civilization than their reservation relatives, are known by the whites as “Stone Chilcotin,” or “Stonies.” Although subjected to intercourse with the whites for a comparatively short period, the Tsilkotin have assimilated the customs and ideas of their civilized neighbors to such an extent that their own have largely disappeared, except among the families still living in the mountains. The sedentary Tsilkotin, who have abandoned semi subterranean huts and live like their white neighbors in log houses covered with mud, now cultivate cereals, peas, and potatoes, and are reported to be moral, temperate, and religious. These Morice divides into the Tleskotin, Tlathenkotin, and Toosey. Their population was estimated at 450 in 1906.

Footnotes

  1. see Notuntlun, 


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