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Nuxalk hereditary chiefs host feast in Bella Coola

Gathering marks a return to ceremony for community

A gathering of some hereditary chiefs of the Nuxalk Nation and a community feast was held on March 17, 2022 in Bella Coola.

It was the first large ceremonial gathering able to be held since the pandemic began and it included some blessings, and Nuxalk singers and dancers at the Nuxalk Community Hall.

“You could see the eyes of our people and they were just quite amazed … their spirits were up,” said Snuxyaltwa, also known as Deric Snow, one of the 10 hereditary chiefs attending the event, of the response to finally being able to gather and share ceremony again.

“Everybody’s eyes were on the dancers and the singers, that’s how powerful it was,” he added.

After the death of an elder in the community, it was uncertain if the feast would be able to proceed, but the chiefs obtained permission from the siblings of the deceased and it went ahead as planned.

Two hundred and thirty Nuxalk community members attended the event, which included announcements by the chiefs of upcoming potlatches, headstone ceremonies and a discussion of a letter to the Royal B.C. Museum.

Letter affirms support from hereditary chiefs for return of totem pole

“We would like to work with you to coordinate the safe return of a pole to the Snuxyaltwa family,” notes the letter which describes the visit to the museum in 2019 requesting the return of Nuxalk sacred treasures and continues:

“We, the Stataltmc of the nuxalkmc reaffirm that we are in full support of Staltmc Snuxyaltwa’s requests to return the Snuxyaltwa’s longhouse entrance pole to him and his family. We acknowledge that the Royal BC Museum has accomplished nothing in repatriation since Snuxyaltwa began requesting the return of his family’s longhouse entrance pole in 2019. We request that the Royal BC Museum being the return of all Nuxalk artifacts to their respective owners of the Nuxalk Nation.”

The letter also requests the return of human remains so the community can bury them in the traditional ways.

They also request all communication be directly with the Stataltmc of the Nuxalk, the hereditary chiefs.

The letter has been signed by 15 hereditary chiefs from the Nuxalk territory.

Jeff Snow was also celebrated in honour of his retirement from the BC Ambulance Service after 36 years of service.

He was given a spiritual blessing in the songhouse to release any negative energy lingering from his work and a carved whale fin designed by the head chief as a gift.

Read more: Nuxalk Hereditary Chiefs issue letter in opposition to gold prospecting

Read more: Nuxalk totem pole stuck in limbo, ‘no clear path’ to remove it from Royal BC Museum

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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