Published on October 7, 2010 by John
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Nadleh Whut’en and Fraser Lake, view from Mt. Fraser
The Nadleh Whut’en First Nation is a First Nations government of the Dakelh people, whose territory is located in the Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada, around the east end of Fraser Lake. The nation has seven reserves which Indian and Northern Affairs Canada refer to as IR#1-9. (Reserves 5 and 6 split from Nadleh Whut’en and make up Stellat’en First Nation. Until 1990, it was referred to as the Fraser Lake Indian Band.
Nadleh Whut’en has 412 registered members, of which half live on reserve. Most of the nation’s members reside in Nadleh, the main community, while others (approximately 20) live at in Lejac. Nadleh is located along the banks of the Nautley (Nadleh) river, between Fraser Lake and the Nechako River. Lejac is located on the south side of Fraser Lake, on the site of the former Lejac Residential School.
The school opened in 1922, and housed children from Vancouver to Dease Lake and everywhere in between.
The Nadleh Whut’en speak a dialect of the Carrier language part of the Athapaskan language family. Carrier people refer themselves as Dakelh, which means “people who travel by water.”
The nation has one elected government chief and four elected government council members. The Nadleh Whut’en practice the traditional system of balhats (potlatch) and have five clans, whose crests are: Bear, Frog, Caribou, Beaver and Owl.
Their traditional staple foods include salmon, moose, deer, and small game, as well as berries, all of which as still collected by most band members each year for the winter.
Facilities at the Nadleh reserve include:
Treaty/Lands Management office
Adult Learning centre
Nadleh Koh School (Aboriginal Head Start Programme)
Outdoor hockey rink
Facilities in Lejac (IR#4):
Lejac Auto Body
Rocky Mountain Log Homes
Facilities on IR#8
Ormond Lake Cultural Camp
Pictographs can be found painted granite rocks on the north side of Fraser Lake on IR#2. The drawings depict animals, fish and birds.
Beaumont Provincial Park is located on Nadleh Whut’en’s traditional territory, right next to the Nadleh village. It was the original site of Fort Fraser, a North West Company trading post. The first fort was built in 1806, but burned down and was later moved onto today’s Nadleh reserve.
In September 2006, archaeologists uncovered an axe head near the Nadleh River and estimated it to be over 1,000 years old. There are also the remains of a fishing weir in the Nadleh river, estimated to be over 100 years old.
Each year in Lejac, Catholic churches celebrate Rose Prince, known to the Dakelh as Rose of the Carrier. In her honour, an annual pigrimmage takes place where people from across Canada for three days to pray and celebrate their faith.
The Cheslatta Trail to Cheslatta Lake, and the Nyan Wheti route to Fort St. James connect at Nadleh village.
Dr. Maggie Hodgson, nominated for the Order of Canada in 2006 by the Health Support Workers in Saskatchewan who work with Indian Residential School former students. She organized the first “Healing Our Spirit World Wide Gathering” in Edmonton, Alberta in 1992, with 3200 participants from around the world. Her efforts in community development have earned her the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the United Nations Community Development Award, the Canadian Public Health Community Development Award, the Alberta Aboriginal Role Model Award, and the Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission Award of Excellence.
Nadleh Whut’en First Nation is affiliated with the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and is presently in treaty negotiations with the Federal and Provincial governments.
It is also affiliated with Carrier Sekani Family Servibes, an organisation that focuses on physical and mental health and provides social services to its members.