Category: Culture

Things to Do in the Area—Aboriginal Experiences

Aboriginal Experiences

With its many totem poles and significant Aboriginal sites, New Hazelton and the surrounding Hazeltons area is a fabulous place to view and learn about local First Nations culture.

The area’s people, including the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan, have made a huge effort and continue to preserve and honour their language, culture, arts, and traditional beliefs.

‘Ksan Museum and Historical Village

The ‘Ksan Museum and Historical Village, between Old Hazelton and Gitanmaax, is a replica of a former Gitxsan village from the 1800s. A visit to this world-class destination is both iconic and intimate. The site has a museum with an upstairs exhibition that changes periodically. There’s also a carving school, gift shop, totem poles, and several longhouses to explore. Take a tour in English, French, or German to learn about the Gitxsan history, governance, and ancient song and dance.

To get to ‘Ksan Village, turn off Hwy 16 to go to Hazelton Village. Within a few minutes, ‘Ksan will appear on the left. The best time to visit is during the summer as, in the winter, no tours are available and only the museum and gift shop are open.

Totem Poles

With its more than 50 standing totem poles, the Hazeltons has one of the most concentrated collection of poles in the world. The Kispiox Valley has about 24 hereditary poles, Kitwanga has approximately 11, and Gitanyow has more than 15. Each pole tells a story of its peoples’ history and land claims.

For a list and explanation of all of the totem poles in the area, ask for the comprehensive ‘Tour of the Totems’ from the New Hazelton Visitor Centre. The document includes the exact locations of the various totem poles, and provides an in-depth explanation of their significance to local First Nations. Visitors can spend a whole day driving from community to community appreciating these works of art.

Gitwangak National Historic Site

Another must see in this area is the Gitwangak National Historic Site. Read the information panels along the trail up to a steep mound, now named Battle Hill, to learn about the impressive fort and vicious battles once fought from this spot by the fierce warrior ‘Nekt. To reach the site, turn onto Hwy 37 from Hwy 16 at Kitwanga and follow the signs.

Tours

Skeena Eco-Expeditions offers half and full day cultural tours of the Kispiox Valley. The tourist kiosk in Hazelton Village also offers free walking tours of the town, which last about half an hour.

Photo and Information: Courtesy HelloBC