Indigenous artifacts from Chilko Lake to be kept at Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin

Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin manager Alex Geris (left) with president Janice Sapp and Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua. (Rebecca Dyok photo)Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin manager Alex Geris (left) with president Janice Sapp and Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
A baby basket, arrowheads and stone tools have been donated to the Xeni Gwet’in Nation west of Williams Lake. Chief Jimmy Lulua requested Friday, Sept 25 to have the items kept on display at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin. (Rebecca Dyok photo)A baby basket, arrowheads and stone tools have been donated to the Xeni Gwet’in Nation west of Williams Lake. Chief Jimmy Lulua requested Friday, Sept 25 to have the items kept on display at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Chase area resident Maureen Wallin said Tommy Lulua had his family make her a baby basket for her first son born in 1968. (Rebecca Dyok photo)Chase area resident Maureen Wallin said Tommy Lulua had his family make her a baby basket for her first son born in 1968. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Of the artifacts, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said he was most pleased to see the piece of obsidian. “We’ve gone to war, our nation, so this shows another symbol of our history,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting I think.” (Rebecca Dyok photo)Of the artifacts, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said he was most pleased to see the piece of obsidian. “We’ve gone to war, our nation, so this shows another symbol of our history,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting I think.” (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Shortly past closing time on a late Friday afternoon, staff with the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin patiently waited to present a First Nations chief with artifacts from Chilko Lake.

A hand woven baby basket and box containing arrowheads and a piece of obsidian were spread out on a table with large stone tools for Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua by museum manager Alex Geris and society president Janice Sapp.

“There’s just some really amazing pieces in here,” Sapp said, noting there was no question the piece of obsidian came from the Chilcotin where there is only one deposit.

“You see this stuff quite often but maybe not as intact as some of these arrowheads are.”

Maureen Wallin of Eagle Bay recalled fondly how Tommy Lulua had his family make her a baby basket for her first son, Rick, born in 1968.

She said her father became close friends with Tommy through his work for the International Pacific Salmon Commission where every spring he would take a crew of men into Chilko Lake or Chilko River to count the salmon fry.

“Tommy used to come down to the fisheries camp and have lunch or coffee and cake with my parents,” Wallin recalled, noting in the evenings her parents would find arrowheads near the freshly bulldozed ground for an airstrip by the Chilko Lake Lodge.

Read More: ‘It’s like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

Decades later Wallin, 74, started sorting through the many keepsakes that her and her husband amassed over their many moves including the basket they had kept in memory of Rick who passed away at the age of 22.

“I didn’t just want to get rid of it because it was special,” she said, noting she had reached out to one of her friend’s daughters who works at the Chase and District Museum and Archives and had contacted the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

“I thought they should all go back to where they came from.”

With the museum in Williams Lake agreeing to accept the items, Wallin’s husband Joe made the more than three hour drive to deliver the artifacts. Stone tools used as anchors for fishing were also donated by Carol Scott whose husband Doug Stelter worked with Wallin’s father at Chilko Lake.

Upon his arrival Chief Jimmy Lulua was thrilled to see the items including two photos of Tommy taken by Wallin’s mother who would cook for the crew.

“We’ve already proven that we won Aboriginal rights and title, but this is just another symbol and a sign that we haven’t lost everything,” Lulua said.

“We’re still piecing together our history and our culture back piece by piece, and it’s not going to be perfect by any means but seeing things like this does bring hope.”

Read More: B.C. museum releases more than 16,000 historical photos of Indigenous life

Because of the hardships brought upon Indigenous people by colonization, smallpox and residential school, Lulua said he does not know his direct bloodline including that of his grandparents and that any direct relation to Tommy is unknown.

Before departing with two quilts gifted by Wallin, Lulua asked that the museum display the artifacts in a separate case.

Both Sapp and Geris, who is working on the repatriation of Indigenous artifacts, agreed and suggested Xeni Gwet’in Elders provide a write up about Tommy.

Through a shared stewardship agreement, the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin will safely house the artifacts until Xeni Gwet’in decides they would like to have them returned to them.

“Through experience I’ve come across many First Nations and a lot of them I’ve talked to, mostly the Coastal people, I ask them why would you leave a totem pole in a museum,” Lulula said.

“They go ‘well it’s preserved so the future generations can come and watch and learn the artwork,’ so I kind of want to bring more pieces back here so future generations know how to put together buckskin gloves, a buckskin purse or moccasins because those are the things that are getting lost.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

IndigenousMuseumWilliams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File Photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Wagon visit to Lhoosk’uz (Kluskus): part four

We had arrived at this remote Southern Carrier Nation village after dark… Continue reading

Freya Cockwill, 4, Lyra Cockwill, 6, and Haylee Sigurdson, 9, had some fun designing and painting face masks during the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy’s Family Fest in January of 2020 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Watch for Tribune Reach-A-Reader edition Jan. 21

Read the Tribune newspaper on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 to learn more about CCPL and literacy

Residents are reminded to remain vigilant in following COVID-19 precautions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Climbing COVID-19 cases prompts City of Williams Lake to increase response level

City leaders continue to press for more information from Interior Health

A sign outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake last summer reminded visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Moderna vaccine coming to all six Tsilhqot’in communities within coming days, weeks

Yunesit’in First Nation to receive COVID-19 vaccine Jan. 13

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read