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Coast Salish Protocols

The Tsleil-Waututh people are Coast Salish, sharing customs and interests with other First Nations and tribes around the Salish Sea. According to Coast Salish concepts of land tenure and territoriality, the water, land, air, and resources of Tsleil-Waututh territory are our birthright. We have a profound obligation to both our ancestors and future generations to protect and care for our water, land, air, and resources and to fulfill our stewardship responsibilities. Our people have a sacred duty to ensure the health of our territory. The contemporary Tsleil-Waututh Nation carries this stewardship obligation forward and, according to Coast Salish law, remains the decision-making authority for Burrard Inlet. Section 8 will explain in more detail the origin and nature of Tsleil-Waututh law. Coast Salish people have clear concepts of water, land, and resource ownership, governance, and stewardship. While other First Nations may have occasionally harvested

Villages & Our Subsistence Economy

Prior to contact, at least eight and as many as 14 villages existed in eastern Burrard Inlet. Several thousand Tsleil-Waututh people occupied these sites. The villages were strategically located in defensible, and typically sheltered, locations where rich intertidal resources were found (Morin 2015). Tsleil-Waututh people resided in villages in eastern Burrard Inlet in 1846 and up to the present day. Map 4 shows the location of 10 such villages. Map 5 identifies correspondences between named ancestral Tsleil-Waututh village sites and known large archaeological sites, confirming their long and continuous use by Tsleil-Waututh people. All of Burrard Inlet was within easy daily travel distance of Tsleil-Waututh village sites. Most distant were the Indian River, at the head of Indian Arm, and the beaches west of what is now Stanley Park. Our people could travel anywhere in Burrard Inlet within two hours from the villages where Tsleil-Waututh resided in 1846, and we did so to meet our daily needs.6 Even reaching the Fraser River from the south shore of Burrard Inlet took less than two hours’ walking time. Map 6 shows the area covered in two hours of travel time. Tsleil-Waututh used sophisticated technology for mass harvesting and storing abundant marine foods. We maintained a series of resource harvest camps and followed a seasonal round of travel and activity. Our ancestors took full advantage of all aspects of the natural environment. Our



resources from Tsleil-Waututh territory, they did so following Coast Salish protocols for seeking permission. Our people must do the same in territories outside our own. Historically, as today, Coast Salish people maintained widespread kinship networks. The wives and husbands of Tsleil-Waututh leaders came from many different communities. When travelling, we always called upon relatives. Through these connections, we obtained permission to harvest resources outside our territory—for example, at the Fraser River or in Howe Sound. When necessary, Tsleil-Waututh used military force to defend our territory. We proactively defended it and retaliated against those who did us harm. In the early historic era, our ancestors fortified key places and engaged in numerous battles with raiders from the north. Map 3 shows the locations of our defensive network and summarizes oral history about two of the battles (Morin 2015).

seasonal round extended beyond Burrard Inlet to include other areas (Morin 2015). Map 7 shows villages, examples of harvest camps and the resources obtained there, and patterns of seasonal movement. Map 8 identifies a number of archaeological sites in the study area interpreted as having been resource harvest camps inhabited as part of the seasonal round. Our Tsleil-Waututh subsistence economy was based on access to and use of natural resources as staple foods for both the living community and our ancestors. It included trade with other Coast or Interior Salish communities. It was strongly oriented toward marine resources, especially salmon, herring, clams, and birds. It also included extensive use of land and river environments for harvesting a wide range of animals, plants, and technological resources. The Tsleil-Waututh used all environments of our territory and beyond, from mountaintops to the open sea. Feeding the ancestors is an important aspect of Tsleil-Waututh culture and tradition made possible by our subsistence economy. In order to care for our ancestors, a shxwla:m or Indian Doctor leads a ritual called a “burning.” In this ritual, specially prepared, local food is burnt in a fire, accompanied by prayer, as an offering to the ancestors. During this event, we receive the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors to help us address current issues.

Two hours is well within the documented daily foraging range of hunter-gatherers such as Tsleil-Waututh (Kelly 1995; Morin and Hunt 2014).

Profile for Tseil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative

Tseil-Waututh Nation Assessment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Proposal  

Landmark independent assessment by the Tsleil-Wautuh Nation of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The assessment applies TWN'...

Tseil-Waututh Nation Assessment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Proposal  

Landmark independent assessment by the Tsleil-Wautuh Nation of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The assessment applies TWN'...