Musqueam

Musqueam territory makes up a large portion of what is known today as Vancouver and the lower mainland, their traditional territory therefore includes Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver; Burrard Inlet, New Westminster; Burnaby, Delta, Surrey and Richmond. 1

The name Musqueam relates to these spaces, meaning something near to 'people of the river grass.' Musqueam culture is very much tied up with land and many of the landmarks are in fact transformation places where Xe:ls has transformed their ancestors into various markings or figures in the landscape. 2

The traditions of the Musqueam peoples are often practiced within the big house, where multiple families lived. These are sacred and private places, and one is privileged to enter such a site. However, gatherings at the big house can be both formal and informal, depending on what type of work is to be done. 3

The Musqueam language is Halq'eméylem, or what has been called Downriver Halkomelem. There are seven known fluent speakers of the language while many others have completed language courses at universities such as the University of British Columbia. 4

The University of Victoria's Art Collections houses both prints and carvings from acclaimed Musqueam artists Susan Point and Ray Sim. Point's work is known all over the world and her public installations in the lower mainland have become significant markers of a physical and visual emphasis on Musqueam relationships to land. Although Ray Sim is of Musqueam ancestry, he has also been adopted into the Nuu-chah-nulth community, where he has worked as an artist and educator over the years. Both artists have a significant amount of work included in the collections.

Above References:

1 Jospeh, Tewanii et al. 2009. People of the Land: Legends of the four host First Nations. Penticton, BC; Oroville, WA: Theytus Books.

2 Musqueam http://www.musqueam.bc.ca/Home.html

3 Musqueam http://www.musqueam.bc.ca/Culture.html

4 Musqueam http://www.musqueam.bc.ca/Language.html
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