Chief Kw’eh recognized at Fort St. James national historic site

The community gathered at the Fort St. James National Historic Site for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.

Guy and Ruby Prince drum at the ceremony in Fort St. James on Sept. 17 in remembrance of Chief Kw’eh.

Guy and Ruby Prince drum at the ceremony in Fort St. James on Sept. 17 in remembrance of Chief Kw’eh.

Barbara LatkowskiCaledonia Courier


On Sept. 17, Parks Canada, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada as well as Nak’azdli First Nation recognized the historical significance of Chief Kw’eh in British Columbia.

The community gathered at the Fort St. James National Historic Site for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque that will later be installed permanently at the site.

The ceremony acknowledged the contribution of Chief Kw’eh as a significant figure in Canadian history.

It was also a special day for Lillian Sam and Frieda Klippenstein, both from Fort St. James who co-compiled a book, Chief Kw’eh Remembered.

The book outlines the life and history of Chief Kw’eh including many memorable interviews and photos.

Chief Kw’eh (1755-1840) emerged as an important indigenous leader during a time of inter-tribal warfare in B.C.

With the entry of new trade goods and diseases from foreign ships, Chief Kw’eh was regarded as a founding father in the Dakelh communities around Fort St. James because of the way he continued to provide for his people.

In the 1800’s Chief Kw’eh was widely known for his peaceful relations between Euro-Canadian fur traders.  As he brought furs and salmon to the post, in turn, he was able to distribute goods at potlatches that helped raise his own status amongst his people.

Chief Kw’eh is remembered mostly for not resorting to violence during turbulent times.

“We thank you for joining us today to remember this man, the Dreamer of Salmon,” Nak’azdli Chief, Alexander McKinnon said.

Pete Erickson saw the plaque as being a good start.

“He needs to be remembered. This is a good start to bring his story out,” Erickson said.

Fort St. James Mayor MacDougall also attended the ceremony.

“We are gathered here together. That comes with the respect for the land and for the culture. As a community, we should be proud,” MacDougall said.

The ceremony ended with drumming and singing a stew and bannock luncheon for all to enjoy.

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