History of Stellat'en First Nation

Brief History of the Stellat’en First Nation

The community of Stellako is located 160 kilometers west of Prince George, B.C. Stellat’en (people of Stella) has existed since time immemorial. The fertile land between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof is the basin of glacial Lake. Stellaquo is located at the confluence between two rivers: the Stellaquo and Endako. Stellaquo River is world renowned trout fishing location.

More than half of the 400-plus registered Stellat’en lives in Stellako, a Dakelh (Dene) community located at the western shore of Nadleh Bun (Fraser Lake). Their neighbours on the eastern shore are the Nadleh Whut’en. Other Stellat’en lives in other Carrier Sekani communities, and in towns and cities, such as Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, Prince George, Vancouver, and Victoria. The Stellat’en is Dene (Athapaskan) whose people have lived in the Stellat’en territory for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence indicate that the Athapaskan have lived in the Central Interior for at least 10,000 years.

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The Clan System of the Stellat’en First Nation

The clans are matrilineal, that is everyone belongs to his/her mother’s clan, unless she/he pays large sum of money to “cross the table to the opposite clan.” There are four clans: Bear, Beaver, Frog and Caribou.

Click on the links below for the clan leaders:

Bahlats Ada Dene Huyinla – Potlach in the Beginning

The Bahlats has its roots in the distance past, a time when our Carrier ancestors lived in large family groupings, scattered  throughout the winter or summer fish camps and hunting territories, where they could survive. Our ancestors saw that when two or more families got together “there were problems, and sometimes they did not get along.”

Learn about the history of the Stellat’en First Nation Potlach, including its reason for coming to be, the etiquette practiced, and what the position of “first person” entails, by clicking the link below.

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Dakelh Yinka Da – Carrier of Long Ago

Traditional and religious practices were clearly evident among early carrier peoples. The advent of European settlement brought religious influences. Europeans were considered very strange.

Click on the link below to read about the religious and traditional practices and people of Stellat’en First Nation including prophets, medicine men and women and dreamers.

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Terminology

  • Bahlats: A traditional carrier ceremony held in feast hall to resolve or celebrate an event such weddings, name giving and burials.
  • Ustas: mythical carrier legend.
  • Dughehutelhdulh: A big gathering or people migrate towards a feast.
  • Dune zah’: A man with noble personage also a carrier hereditary name.
  • Tseke zah’:  A woman of nobility and also a carrier hereditary name.
  • Skezah’: A child being groomed for royalty and carrier name.
  • Crossing the table: Crossing the table refers to crossing the floor over to another clan in the event that you marry into your own clan or a death has caused the other clan to lose too many members.

It is important to understand that the influences on Carrier language include French, English, and Chinook (trade language) to create Pigeon Carrier. Today Pigeon Carrier is mostly a mixture of Carrier and English