The Tale of Two Tsayu, Beaver Clan Chiefs

Victor Jim

A very humbling moment as Victor Jim becomes the high chief of the Tsaya Clan.

Never did I dream when I started this article it would end up looking like the Wet’suwet’en version of Game of Thrones, but it has every likeness to it.

Note: we added an addendum on discovering more relevant information. JLS

When we use the words “Delgamuukw” the first thing the people think of is the legendary chiefs who spent near years of their life’s explaining to a Canadian Supreme Court, who they were, what nation they were, how they governed this nation after decades of Canada trying to wipe out those facts.

The result was not many Wet’suwet’en know the rules or their own laws, and where there is the smell of money, there is also a stench of corruption, not from outside but from within. Wet’suwet’en hate like hell to air their laundry in public, because they have pride in who they are, but it resulted in giving corruption a free run at the controls of a nation.

I want to take you back to the time when respect and elders was the same thing, when giving was a greater honor than taking.

I want to take you back to August  1986 where Emma Michell was being interviewed and Victor William Jim was the interpreter.  Emma Michell was at that time the Hereditary Chief and head of the house of the Beaver Clan.

In order to be truthful I will copy verbatim from the Delgamuukw Supreme Court transcript. I will not copy it all as there is far too much not as relevant in regards to what we are proving here. The object here is to prove that Emma Michell at this time was both a Herditary Chief and House Chief of the Tsayu

That there are two houses under the Tsayu Clan, one is Kweese and the other is the one Emma Michell is head of called Tsa K’en yex  (Rafters on Beaver House)

For the record Q is from the crown and A is from Emma Michell


Q And what clan did your mother and do you belong to?
THE WITNESS: Beaver and Eagle.
A Which is Beaver and Eagle.
Q Is it also known as Tsayu?
THE WITNESS: Tsayu.
Q Is that correct?
A Yes.


 

THE WITNESS: Um-hmm.
Q Then you pointed your daughters — does the wall turn and
your daughters go down the side —
THE WITNESS: Yeah.
Q – – from you?
THE WITNESS: Yeah.

Q Now, I just want to be clear about this then. Beside you
is Susan, that’s Susan Alfred?
THE WITNESS: Yeah.
Q And beside SUSan is Who?
THE WITNESS: Margaret Williams is her mother.
(Court Reporter requests clarification)
Q Margaret Williams is her mother. And beside Margaret is?
THE WITNESS: Lucy Holland.
Q And beside Lucy?
THE WITNESS: Lucy (inaudible) Florence Hall.
MR. 0’ByRNE: I’m sorry?
THE INTERPRETER: Florence Hall.
MR. GRANT: Florence Hall.
Q And her name is Kweese?
A Kweese.
Q And Lucy Holland’s name is Namox?
THE WITNESS: Namox.
Q Margaret Williams’ name is Wilat?
THE WITNESS: Wilat.
Q SUsan Alfred’s name is Gitan?
THE WITNESS: Gitan. Gitan, take my grandma name, my grandma,
m Who took your grandmother’s name?
THE WITNESS: My grandmother. I don’t know her name. (Inaudible)
It was a long time ago.
Q That’s the name that Margaret Williams now holds?
THE WITNESS: Yeah.
Q Now, does anybody in the Wet’suwet’en feast hall sit in
front of you?
A Okay, some of the people who sit in front of us are Kweese’s
sister Christine, Amanda and Charlie Bazil.
Q Okay, Christine, Kweese’s sister Christine what’s her last
name?
THE WITNESS: Christine Jimmy.
A Christine Jimmy.
Q And Amanda’s last name?
THE WITNESS: Amanda Gunnanoot.
A Amanda Gunnanoot.
(Further response by Witness to Interpreter)
A Who used to stay with Alec Gunnanoot from Hazelton.
Q I’m sorry I may be wrong but did you say — there was a
third name you said, what was it?
THE INTERPRETER: Charlie Bazil.
THE WITNESS: Charlie Bazil.
Q Does Alfred Mitchell sit in front of you at the feast?
A Yes.
Q And Billy Mitchell?
A Sometimes, he doesn’t go to feasts that often.

 


Q Who Speaks today for the Tsayu people in the feast hall?
A She’s asking if it’s today that you’re talking about?
Q Yes, today?
A Sometimes Dan speaks for them today and before it used to be Joshua.
Q Okay, and when you refer to Dan, you’re referring to your son Dan Michell is that right?
A Yes, my son.
Q And Joshua, you’re referring to Joshua Holland?
A Yes, my cousin.
Q Okay. Now, is it correct that Wilat, Namox and Kweese are the high chiefs of the Tsayu?
A Yes.
Q Okay, and they are all in the same house, is that correct?
A Yes, except for Kweese who sits in a different house.

NOTE: Kweese is a different house.


A In the old days, when they were living in the canyon, Wilat has a smokehouse on the highway side of the river and Kweese on the other side of the river.
Q In the feast today who speaks for Kweese?
A Nobody speaks for Kweese.
Q Just So I Can understand better Emma, when you say nobody speaks for her, does she speak for herself in the feast in other words?
A No, Kweese doesn’t say much at the feast.
Q Who will inherit Kweese’s name When She passes on?
A Probably one of her children.
Q And who will inherit the name Namox when Lucy Holland passes on?
A Okay, Namox has stated that Dan will be taking her name when she passes on and one of my daughters, probably Gloria, will take on Wigetemskol.

So we can see that the name Namox belonged to Lucy Holland, and it was her intention to pass the name to Dan Michell.

As for Florence Hall from the other house Kweese, it still remains vacant today was intended to go to one of her children.

It goes on to say there were 3 high chiefs in the Tsayu clan, 2 of them in the were in the same house as Emma Michell or there was supposed to be another house. So by mathematical deduction we know the latter are not from the Kweese house then the must be from the other house, Rafters on Beaver House or Tsa K’en yex.

Now the name Wigetemskol was to go to Gloria, but that was unsure still based on the answers given by Emma Michell.

It should be understood the Canadian Government had done so much damage to the system of governance, that during this period mistakes could easily have occurred within best intentions. Likewise it is incumbent on the people today, to recognize these mistakes and simply correct them.

More recently I want to bring to your attention this story. Wigitimustol name raised at feast in Moricetown. The Wet’suwet’en Tsayu, Beaver clan, has a new Hereditary Chief Wigitimustol. The prior bearer of that name was Wigetimstachol (Dan Michell) a slightly different spelling but the same name, also the father of Freda Huson.

Keep in mind Wigetimstachol (Dan Michell) was one of the original 13 Herditary Chiefs to testify at the Delgamuukw trial, so that title is the head of Tsa K’en yex  (Rafters on Beaver House).

Speaking to other elders, here is their interpretation of what happened vs what should have happened. The title Namox should have followed proper protocol and went from Lucy Holland (who according to sources say she was senile towards the end of her days) she no longer spoke at potlaches, and Dan Michell spoke in her behalf. Dan should have held the title of Namoks from Bill Holland, but somehow John Ridsdale took it.

So where are we today? Let’s look at the facts.

Victor Jim is a legitimate high chief, also known as Hereditary Chief and as in taking the name Wigitimustol or alternately spelled Wigetimstachol  becomes one of the 13 Heads of houses.

Namox was also a high chief, the question would be is that the highest level? If so then he equal to Victor Jim, if not he is a sub chief of Victor Jim.

Victor Jim is also the elected new chief of Moricetown Band, the one who signed the deals with the Government and CGL.  Granted John Ridsdale may be the spokesman for the Office of Wet’suwet’en, but it’s really difficult at this time to say if he has any authority at all outside of this office.

As they say one story leads to the next, the last election in Witset was for all intensive purpose a vote for or against CGL. One must remember this was the second time the vote was about CGL, and this time the opposition against CGL was ready.

Freda Huson ran against Victor Jim and was soundly defeated. Freda Huson also ran for Councilllor Positions (12) as did Victor Jim, they were both elected she got 129 votes and Victor Jim got 148.
“If” and I want to repeat that with emphasis, “if” the people objected to signing a deal with CGL, then why would they vote the people who endorsed the deal?

So there you have it, unless someone can prove me wrong, John Ridsdale’s name, and his campaign against women, should be removed from the name of Hereditary Chiefs, and ironically again, it’s the EDUCATED vs MUSCLE problem, if you look at education, look at qualification, both the Moricetown Band Office and the  Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition are light years ahead of the Office of Wet’suwet’en in terms of legitimate ability based on education.

Credits for this story come from a sweet niece who took the advice of doing family research, then informing us of her findings.  Also many thanks to those people who sacrifice so much time as references for researchers like myself. There was a period of confusion during the days since Delgamuukw where people were taking names and titles that did not belong to them. It’s time to learn your family history and reclaim what belongs to your family.

As we have said many time before, if you have information that shows we have our facts wrong, feel free to share them with us, everyone should have a right to know who the legitimate hereditary chiefs are, they now are representing over 2000 people.

I may be taking a short break from writing, so now would be a great time for you to speak up, send in your letters, and we will post them, if they qualify. By that I mean if your writing from the Tides Foundation, it probably will hit my trash button.


Addendum:

Further reading of the Delgamuukw file shows that Wilat and Namox shared the responsibility of looking after a portion of Tsayu territory, confirming their status as wing chiefs for the clan, at that time. There is no evidence to support the Namox position ever became the head of house for the Tsayu Clan.

Q In the absence of a person holding the name Boo, which chief is responsible for the Decker Lake and Rose Lake territory that was held by Boo?
A There is no one at the present who looks after — (Further response by Witness to Interpreter)
A Decker Lake. Donald Walter had held that territory when he was alive but he’s dead now. And it’s just white people who live in that territory now.

Q Okay, and Donald Walters had lived in that territory?
A Yes, he lived there for a long time. (Further response by Witness to Interpreter)
A His father also lived there.

Q Okay, in the Wet’suwet’en system, would it be correct that that territory is still considered Tsayu territory?
A Yes.

Q Okay, would Wilat or Namox by responsible for caretaking that territory?
A Yes. They would be responsible for caretaking that territory as well as Sam Goosley Lake.

Q Is one of Wilat or Namox presently responsible for the Decker Lake area? Is either one of them responsible or both of them? A It should be taken care oS by both the chiefs. (Further response by Witness to Interpreter)
A They all came from one clan.



Thanks for having taken the time to visit and read our articles. I had my say, feel free to post your thoughts as well, be part of making a difference.
JLS
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