The Reluctant Travel Writer

‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum

Leonard Lea Frazer

Not far from the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers in Northern British Columbia lies the site of an ancient Gitxsan village. The area is also the confluence of two distinctly different First Nation languages.

Two Gitxsan girls in their dance costumes.
Two Gitxsan girls in their dance costumes.
One of the feature poles at ‘Ksan Historical Village.
One of the feature poles at ‘Ksan Historical Village.

The northernmost tip of the Carrier language or Wet’suwet’en dialect ends here and the Gitksanimx (Interior Tsimshianic) language begins. The Gitxsan village site is today home to a replica village and is the world class attraction known as ‘Ksan.

The ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum contains several buildings representing clan groups, a carving school, restaurant and museum. Just a stone’s throw from the pioneer town of Hazelton, ‘Ksan greets thousands of world travellers each year.

Gitxsan artist and traditional dancer, Robert E. Sebastian, performs at ‘Ksan.
Gitxsan artist and traditional dancer, Robert E. Sebastian, performs at ‘Ksan.

It is also the home of the ‘Ksan Performing Arts Group, and each August hosts the Gitxsan Cultural Days, a three day event that offers entertainment in the form of traditional dancers, drummers and singers, local artists, arts and crafts vendors, an Elders tent, a moose calling and soapberry making contest (Indian ice cream) and a community dinner.

The replicated ‘Ksan village, opened in 1970, features wooden longhouses with colourful motif front walls. ‘Ksan exhibits more that 600 Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en artefacts, has guided cultural tours, Gitxsan songs, dancing and totem poles and the restaurant offers a taste of traditional Gitxsan food. Some of the buildings are open year round and native wood carving may be observed.

‘Ksan can be reached from New Hazelton, on the Yellowhead Highway, and is a fascinating way for visitors to learn about the rich heritage and culture of the Gitxsan and area history.

 

A young dancer displays her unique button blanket at Gitxsan Cultural Days.
A young dancer displays her unique button blanket at Gitxsan Cultural Days.
A young dance group performs at the Gitxsan Cultural Days celebration.
A young dance group performs at the Gitxsan Cultural Days celebration.