Witsuwit'en Videos




Witsuwit’en Het’en: Seeing the Witsuwit’en People

This curriculum development project seeks to use archival recordings of the Witsuwit’en people to create new educational materials for students in the Bulkley Valley. In the 1920s, Harlan Smith, an anthropologist, filmed traditional practices of the Witsuwit’en to create educational documentaries for children at the Canadian National Museum in Ottawa. These films, long out of circulation, have been stored in the archives of what is now the Canadian Museum of History. This project reclaims those images and combines them with interviews and footage of Witsuwit’en people today. The new educational films provide an opportunity to see the ways Witsuwit’en peoples related to their environment nearly a century ago, and celebrate the resilience of those traditions today.

This project is a collaborative one. Numerous Witsuwit’en community members shared their time and knowledge. Tyler McCreary conducted interviews, collected footage, and edited these films. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, Hagwilget Village, Moricetown Band, and School District No. 54 supported the project by providing guidance, access to a meeting space, and archival resources. Drafts of the films were reviewed for use in the schools by the Witsuwit’en Culture and Language Authority and Birdy Markert, Principal of Aboriginal Education, School District #54.

Thank you to all those who have made this project possible. Tabi Misiyh Tyler McCreary and Elders for all your work and efforts in seeing the Witsuwit’en yesterday and today.

Videos 1-5
Video 1: Seeing the Witsuwit’en

Introduction to the video series by the creator, Tyler McCreary. He shares the dusting off of the old video from 1929 called the Carrier Indians of British Columbia; and how the elders and chiefs worked with Tyler to reclaim the video from the past through a series of interviews.

Archive Video: Carrier Indians of British Columbia

This video was created in the 1920’s; during a time when there was an assault on First Nations’ sovereignty by the federal government. It was against the law for First Nations to gather or to keep their children home from Residential Schools, etc. You will find some negative images in this film that were aimed to educate the audiences that viewed these silent films. Today, we are using these films as the foundation to help create a more complete image of the Witsuwit’en. This video will take a few minutes to download.

Video 2: Clans and their Territories

Tyler interviews Violet Gellenbeck, Lucy Verigin, Ron Austin and Russel Tiljoe about their responsibilities on Witsuwit’en territory.

Video 3: Feast Governance

Mabel Critch shares her familiy’s story on the sucession of Chiefs and how the new generations of chiefs inherit the responsibilities of their clan/house territories today.

Video 4: Male Chiefs, Female Chiefs and Children of Chiefs

Violet Gellenbeck, Russel Tiljoe, Ron Austin, Henry Alfred and Herb Naziel share their stories on the grooming of Chiefs and the strengh of the cheifs and their clans.

Video 5: Crests and Blanket

Henry Alfred, Violet Gellenbeck, Ron Austin and John Ridsdale share the complex protocols and laws within the Feast Hall with reference to Crests and Blankets.

Videos 6-9
Video 6: Acting Out Crests

Vi Gellenbeck, Sue Alfred, Henry Alfred and Lucy Verigin provide first hand accounts of the drama that unfolded in the feast hall where chiefs shared their crests stories or their kenga.

Video 7: People Continued to Gather and Feast

Christine Bucholz, Violet Gellenbeck and Russel Tiljoe share how the Witsuwit’en continued to practice their government traditions (feast) during a time when the feasts were outlawed in Canada.

Video 8: Transportation

Lucy Verigin and Russel Tiljoe share stories about how the Witsuwit’en moved around the territories.

Video 9: Going Trapping

Lucy Verigin, Henry Alfred, Russel Tiljoe and Sue Alfred share their stories about the trapping economy in Witsuwit’en country.

Videos 10-14
Video 10: Working on Hide

Henry Alfred, Lucy Verigin and Sue Alfred share their stories about how they prepared hides with their families.

Video 11: Berries

Russel Tiljoe, Lucy Verigin and Henry Alfred share their personal stories harvesting what nature provides and how they use their harvest.

Video 12: Soapberries

Lucy Verigin and Kathryn Arsenault share stories about how Witsuwit’en people harvest and use soapberries.

Video 13: Birchbark Baskets with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Alfred

One of the many ways the Witsuwit’en used natural resources to create tools for every day life.

Video 14: Catching Fish with Gaffs and Weirs

Henry Alfred, Marvin George, Alfred Joseph, Lucy Verigin and Kathryn Arsenault share the tradition and methods of harvesting salmon. They also share the impact of progress.

Videos 15-20
Video 15: Fishing Sites

Violot Gellenbeck, Beatrice Morris, Russel Tiljoe, Alfred Joseph amd Agnes Tait share the importance of fishing sites. They share how a community cared for its members as well as the protocol getting permission to fish at a clan fishing site.

Video 16: Preparing Fish

Russel Tiljoe, Marvin George, Delores Alfred, Katheryn Arsenault, Alfred Joseph and Dora Wilson share their stories about the smokehouse tradition.

Video 17: They Lied to Us

Dora Wilson, Katheryn Arsenault, Agnes Tait, Henry Alfred, Beatrice Morris, Marvin George, and Alfred Joseph share their stories about the changing landscape of the Witsuwit’en fisheries at the cost of progress.

Video 18: The Loss of Fishing in Hagwilget

Dora Wilson, Alfred Joseph and Marvin George share the history of the devistating impacts of blasting a rock out of Hawilget Canyon on the Gitskan and Witsuwit’en Peoples.

Video 19: There is no Food in the Forest

Russel Tiljoe, Henry Alfred and Mabel Critch (Sam) share the impact of progress on traditional Witsuwit’en terrtiories. They share stories of the loss of clan berry patches and trapping territories.

Video 20: Listen to Us

Dora Wilson introduces the Delgamuukw Gisdewe plantiffs as Tyler narrates the story of the longest court case in Canadian history.

Videos 21-24
Video 21: We will Remain

Lucy Verigin, Ron Austin and Ron Mitchell say we have been here for thousands of years; and we belong on Witsuwit’en Territory.

Video 22: Walking on the Road of our Ancestors Again

Sue Alfred, Violet Gellenbeck and Henry Alfred share how this project will help future generations of leaders see the resiliency of the Witsuwit’en People.

Video 23: Thank you to all contributors