Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Parks Canada celebrated the installation of a plaque at the Kiix̣in Village and Fortress (British Columbia) last Tuesday to officially commemorate the designation of Kiix̣in as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Kiix̣in is the site of a 19th-century village and fortress that exhibits evidence of continuous occupation of the area for almost 3,000 years, dating back to 1000 BCE.
“Today, Parks Canada is honored to join with Huu-ay-aht First Nations in commemorating Kiix̣in Fortress National Historic Site. National historic designations are the most significant form of historical recognition that is bestowed by the Government of Canada. Parks Canada has enjoyed a positive relationship with the Huu-ay-aht, and this designation would not be possible, nor as meaningful, without this Nation’s commitment to preserving and sharing its knowledge and history,” said Ron Hallman, Parks Canada president and CEO.
It is also the only known traditional First Nation’s village of more than 100 villages on the southern British Columbia coast that still features significant, standing traditional architecture.
The site’s natural features made it an ideal location for occupation and defense. It is characteristic of Nuu-chah-nulth defensive sites and warfare patterns, resource extraction, and commercial practices.
It illustrates changing Nuu-chah-nulth political and economic patterns in the 18th and 19th centuries. To this day, it remains a sacred site to Huu-ay-aht First Nations people.
“This official installation of the plaque signifies the importance of Kiix̣in and the rich history it tells. Kiix̣in is the main attraction of Huu-ay-aht’s cultural tourism as it offers a truly unique cultural experience for guests who come and visit Huu-ay-aht’s Ḥahuułi (traditional territory). Now, when visitors come to Kiix̣in, they will hear our stories, see our culture and understand the great Canadian national historical site designation it holds,” said Robert J. Dennis Sr., chief councilor of Huu-ay-aht First Nations.
In 1999, the Government of Canada designated Kiix̣in as a national historic site, with the official recognition referring to four distinct archaeological sites, which include the main village and fortress and two related archaeological sites.
In 2002, a commemorative plaque was presented to Huu-ay-aht First Nations by Parks Canada. Last Tuesday, both parties came together to reveal the plaque, which has now been installed on a beautifully carved cedar frame at the Kiix̣in Village and Fortress for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations has three Sacred Principles: ʔiisaak (Greater Respect), Hišuk ma c̓awak (Everything is One), and ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care Of).
Since declaring Kiix̣in a national historic site in 1999, these sacred principles, as they pertain to the land, Huu-ay-aht’s Ḥahuułi (traditional territory), have been upheld, protected, and valued, and efforts will be made to continue honoring these principles for years to come.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations offers guided tours of Kiix̣in with traditional knowledge holders to enrich and teach all who are interested in learning about the history, culture, and traditions of the first peoples of this land.
Tours take place between May and September. More information about Kiix̣in and the tours can be found at https://kiixin.ca/.