Communities Of Lillooet: Skatin (Skookumchuck)
The community of Skatin (formerly Skookumchuck) is located on the east side of the Lillooet River, on the 19-Mile Post of the Harrison-Lillooet wagon road about 35 kilometres from the head of Harrison Lake.
Before the arrival of European settlers, this community was considered to be the largest on the lower Lillooet River, comparable in size to the pre-contact village of present-day Lilwat’ul (Mount Currie).
Skookumchuck Rapids was and remains to be a very abundant fishery, the most abundant on the Lillooet River. Colonial settlers and ethnographers have noted it in historical documents as early as the late 1850s.
At one time, the people of Skatin (Chinook Jargon for ‘swift water’, alluding to qmem’qs) inhabited both sides of the Lillooet River at this point, but the west community has since been absorbed into the east.
While the majority of their reserves lie along the Lillooet River, one of them lies at the southern edge of Glacier Lake, almost 2,000 feet above the Lillooet River. This reserve was used for planting crops in the early 1900s and a very important resource acquisition area for the people of Skatin.
One distinctive feature of the community of Skatin is the Holy Cross Catholic Church. The church was built in Gothic style by members of the Xa’xtsa, Skatin, and Samahquam Bands between 1895 and 1906. It was initiated by the priests of the Order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate that converted the majority of the Lillooet to Christianity. The people of Skatin used the money they earned from trapping to pay for the stained glass panes imported from Italy. The rest of this magnificent church is the result of native craftsmanship.
The community of Skatin also supports an elementary and junior high school (grades K-9), known as the Head of the Lake School, for the children of In-SHUCK-ch members, the majority of which are from Skatin and Tipella. The school also informally supports students taking courses by correspondence.
In-SHUCK-ch Nation was formally declared as a sovereign nation by a General Assembly Resolution in May 2005. In-SHUCK-ch Nation now represents the Samahquam and Skatin Indian Bands.
We have chosen to be called In-SHUCK-ch (taken from the sacred mountain of In-SHUCK-ch) to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the Stl’atl’imx or St’át’imc peoples. We adopted the name In-SHUCK-ch in the 1980s as a “political” designation to advance our title and rights while maintaining and strengthening our traditional and cultural association with the tribe.
Our Seven Generations Plan defines who we are, what is important to us, and where we want to go as a people and as a Nation. It is based on our own circular world view where our ancestors, those living today, and those yet unborn, are all tied together, and where we share the earth with all other living things and non-living things. This world view says that those living now have a duty to protect the values from the past while planning for the future in a modern world. This plan is based on our understanding that every generation is a seventh generation (The Seven Generations Plan).
Our tmicw (land) is situated over the mountains from Whistler and Squamish, only three hours by car from Vancouver. It includes those areas drained by the creeks and rivers which drain into the southern half of Lillooet Lake, the lower Lillooet River, and the northern half of Harrison Lake.
The nearest First Nations are the Lil’wat Nation to the north, and the Sts’ailes to the south. The nearest municipalities are Pemberton to the north, and Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz to the south. Only one quarter of us live at home (on our land) while the majority of In-SHUCK-ch Nation membership reside in the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland.
The Xa’xtsa, made up of Port Douglas (situated at the northern end of Little Harrison Lake) and Tipella (located on the west side of the Lillooet River), withdrew from negotiating final agreement as part of the In-SHUCK-ch Nation in 2010. We anticipate, however, that as the In-SHUCK-ch Nation redefines the final agreement, settlement lands, and governance, Xa’xtsa will also define theirs.