Family Genealogies

Names and their histories connect Nuxalkmc to their culture and to Nuxalk Lands and identities. Family lineages are connected with their villages of origin through names that were held by someone before. Rediscovering and reclaiming Nuxalk place names for geographical locations is a political act of sovereignty that can be used in legal cases to assert Aboriginal Title and Rights.

Right: Snxakila (Clyde Tallio), teacher of traditional Nuxalk culture at the Acwsalcta School of Learning in Bella Coola. The ancestral Home Land of the Tallio Family is at Talyu on South Bentinck Arm. Snxakila leads the Nuxalk Rediscovery Camp which takes young Nuxalkmc to traditional sites in Nuxalk Territory such as Talyu. Many Nuxalkmc, including the Elders, want to return to their ancestral Home Lands but these places are being wrecked by too much logging. Such commercial exploitation puts at risk not only our ancient trees and natural resources but our identity as an Indigenous People.

Moody Family

Joshua Moody

Annie Moody

Above: Albert Hood, b. 1894.

Right: Moody Family. Snxakila (Clyde Tallio) did the genealogical research on the Moody Family for the Chief Qwatsinas Memorial on 31 August 2011. For the detailed research by Snxakila, see: Moody Genealogy

Left: Felicity Walkus dancing. Felicity performed in a singing group with Agnes Edgar, Margaret Siwallace and Dan Nelson. They could sing about 15 traditional Nuxalk Sisawk and Kusiyut songs. In 1972 and 1973 this group, led by Felicity, won the Songhees Festival in Victoria as the best native performing group in BC.

In her late seventies, Felicity shared some of her stories about the time "before white people were around to spoil things [when] this whole valley was ours, right up to the precipice [40 miles from tidewater]. Now they only let us fish four miles of the river, though it was all ours!" in Wisdom of the Elders by Ruth Kirk, 1986.

Begat and Niixutsayc Family Reunion

Right: Mercy Snow and grandchild, 2011. The Snuxyaltwa (Snow) connection to Begat and Niixutsayc is through our grandmother Flossie Andy (nee Webber), mother of Mercy. Niixutsayc had 21 children from her first marriage and no children from her marriage with Willie Johnson, a fisherman from the Port Hardy area who drowned while out gillnetting.

Left: Children performing at the Begat and Niixutsayc Family Reunion hosted by Snuxyaltwa Family at Bella Coola on 27 August 2011. The historic family reunion celebrated the reunited family members of Niixutsayc (Annie Johnson), Begat (Johnny Quilt) and Joe Siwallace. It was an occasion to honour our traditions and celebrate the twins of two First Nations coming together after many years apart.

Begat and Niixutsayc were twins from Kimsquit (Dean River). Siblings were Albert Siwallace, Steven Siwallace and Addie Saunders. The children of Niixutsayc and Billy Andy included Robert Andy, Flossie Webber and Lottie Andy.

The fraternal twins Niixulsayc and Begat were separated as newborns in a tragedy in the village of Kimsquit. During the 19th century the British navy enforced colonial law by acts of genocide. In 1877 a British gunboat attacked the Nuxalkmc at Kimsquit village, taking prisoners and and destroying their homes. Begat was rescued by the Quilt family. Niixutsayc went to live and start a family in the Bella Coola Valley, Begat moved to Nemiah Valley. Both family trees grew strong over the years but neither group knew about the connection until recently.

The importance of personal histories and family trees was expressed by every speaker at the Begat and Niixutsayc Family Reunion. Descendants of Niixutsayc spoke to her memory and those of Begat recounted personal stories of his life. Chief Snuxyaltwa reminded everyone; "Begat, Niixutsayc, and Joe Siwallace were brothers and sister. This is what brings us here as a family, why the Creator has brought us here today. Our People have done many things in our lives, and it's all for a purpose."

Left: Xeni Gwet'in Harry Wells Jr. performing.

Right: Nuxalk singers and dancers perform the Simon Johnson Honour Song, asking the Creator to bless and reunite the families. The first gathering of the descendants of Niixutsayc and the descendants of Begat occurred in the Bella Coola Valley five years ago. This is the second reunion. "Family is really important," says Eila Quilt, descendant of Johnny Quilt, "Today - to reunite and get to know our family is amazing and over whelming. I see a lot of potential here today. To see our children dancing, to see both cultures together and the pride in our youth, I am overwhelmed. . . Our family is reconnecting, both to each other and to Mother Earth. We are growing stronger, in every sense."

Roseanne Andy spoke on behalf of the Andy family, recalling her time listening to stories told by Niixutsayc in the Nuxalk language; "She used to sit and tell us stories because she knew I understood the language. I'm really glad I tood the time to listen to my Elders, and I encourage all the young people to listen to Elders talk, because this is how we keep our history."

Leftt: Chief Marilyn Baptiste singing at the Begat and Niixutsayc Reunion. Descendants of Johnny Quilt are part of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation. They include Chief Baptiste, who said; "It is really nice to hear everyone's stories and to learn about our similarities - to know who the families are, and were we come from. We're filling in the gaps in who our relations are."

The singers shared three traditional songs to introduce the culture of the family members descended from Begat. Baptiste spoke about the culture and land in the Nemiah Valley; "we grew up without electricity, without trucks - all horse and wagon. We all speak our language fluently. We practice harvesting food from the land, from the forest, including potaoes."

Pootlass Family

Above: Sixilaaxayc (Noel Pootlass). North of Sts'kiilh is Mount Pootlass (right), a glaciated summit between Nieumiamus Creek and Necleetsconnay River, named for the ancient Pootlass Family village.

Above: Nuxalk Village of Sts'kiilh. This is the ancestral village of Head Hereditary Chief Nuximlayc (Lawrence Pootlass, father of Noel Pootlass and brother of Archie Pootlass). He is a descendant of Chief Alex Pootlass, Chief Sam (King) Pootlass and Big Chief Adam King.

Right: Chief Alex Pootlass. The name Pootlass means "Plenty for All." At the 19th annual convention of the Native Brotherhood, Chief Pootlass (who donated $1,000) and the Nuxalk People were honoured for their bountiful and gracious hospitality and for their great work in advancing the cause of the native people.


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