Ch'ich eliwxih

Mt. Seymour Watershed, North Vancouver

Looking north at Ch’ich eliwxih from 4000 level AQ Building, Burnaby Campus.
Ch’ich eliwxih village on Seymour Creek ca. 1886. Photo from Major Matthews collection, Vancouver Archives.

Ch’ich eliwxih is the name for the Mt. Seymour watershed, as well as the name of a village located at the mouth of the Seymour River on the North Shore of səl̓ilw̓ət (Burrard Inlet). The meaning of Ch’ich eliwxih is unclear; one interpretation is that it may derive from the Skwxwú7mesh word “ch’ich” (pure land).

The rich marine and terrestrial environment of Ch’ich eliwxih provided spiritual and physical nourishment for the people of the village. Those seeking spiritual training would have spent long periods in the mountain’s alpine areas, which were forbidden to most people. Higher elevations are places of power where water is pure and the landscape is relatively untouched. The waters flowing from Ch’ich eliwxih feed the nearby fishing location of Stitsmalocated along the Seymour River. Today, people continue to fish for salmon in this location.

During the summer, Skwxwú7mesh families harvested clams on beaches at the mouth of Seymour River, extending westward to Lynn Creek, a practice that is no longer viable do to land appropriations. Clams were dug using digging sticks and placed in open weave baskets. The abundant clam beaches in səl̓ilw̓ət were important because the resource was limited elsewhere within Skwxwú7mesh territory. Men also hunted deer in the area making sure to follow cultural rules dictating access, and ways in which they could be hunted, cooked, and consumed.

The bountiful resources available around Ch’ich eliwxih enabled the people to hold feasts, commonly referred to today as potlatches. Feasts and winter dances were held in the village longhouse that was estimated to be 200 feet long; it required six large fires for heat. Ceremonial practices continued at Ch’ich eliwxih despite a legislative ban enacted by the Canadian Government between 1884 and 1951 that made practicing Indigenous culture a criminal offence. 

Additional information

  • Bouchard, Randy, and Dorothy Kennedy. 1986  Squamish Nation Land Use And Occupancy. Report submitted to Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council, BC Indian Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.
  • 1976a  Knowledge And Usage of Land Mammals Birds, Insects, Reptiles And Amphibians By The Squamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC Indian Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.
  • 1976b  Utilization Of Fish, Beach Foods, And Marine Mammals By TheSquamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC Indian Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Bouchard, Randy, and Nancy Turner. 1976  Ethnobotany Of The Squamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC Indian Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Matthews, John S. 1955  Conversations with Khatsahlano. Compiled by The City Archivist  Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Reimer, Rudy. 2011 The Mountains and Rocks are Forever: Lithics and Landscapes of Skwxwú7mesh Uxwumixw. Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation, Department Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton.