Ancestral spaces, structures, and belongings, as well as place names, stories, songs, and teachings are at the heart of Tŝilhqot’in heritage. From time immemorial, we have protected and cared for that which has been handed down by our ʔesggidam (ancestors). They walked these lands long before us. They fished, hunted, gathered plants, practiced their traditions, followed their laws, and lived their lives in harmony with other beings. The ʔesggidam made the places of their lives sacred, leaving behind physical and spiritual traces in their footprints. Their presence on the landscape remains strong today as it will continue into the future.
It is our responsibility to care for Tŝilhqot’in heritage. We do this by learning and following dechen ts’edilhtan (Tŝilhqot’in law), singing our songs and telling our stories, and by standing united against forces that would damage our sacred places and our ways of life. We are guided through this important work by the voices of our people, our elders, youth, women and leaders, as well as our ʔesggidam and the land itself.
From the Chilcotin War of 1864 to the 2014 Supreme Court of Canada victory for Aboriginal title, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation has remained strong, united, and determined to care for ancestral places, to honour our ʔesggidam, and to protect our lands, resources, knowledge, and traditions for future generations. We continue to assert our inherent jurisdiction and authority to control, interpret, protect, and practice our cultural heritage in all its forms.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (2019) are examples of a growing recognition for indigenous rights, authority and jurisdiction here and around the world. For Tŝilhqot’in, these shifting attitudes — along with milestone agreements like the Nenqay Deni Accord (2016) and the Gwets’en Nilt’i Pathway Agreement (2019) — are opening new opportunities to improve the management of Tŝilhqot’in heritage for generations to come. Yet as far as we have come there is still much work to do.
In spite of the ongoing challenges we face, our Nation remains united and determined as ever to assert our inherent rights and jurisdiction to improve the way our heritage is understood, protected, practiced, and celebrated.