Squamish people

The Squamish people (Squamish: Skwxwú7mesh listen, historically transliterated as Sko-ko-mish) are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast.[1] Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in the area for more than a thousand years.[2] In 2012, there was population of 3,893 band members registered with the Squamish Nation.[3] Their language is the Squamish language or Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim, considered a part of the Coast Salish languages,[4] and is categorized as nearly extinct with just 10 fluent speakers as of 2010.[5] The traditional territory is in the area now in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and covers Point Grey as the southern border. From here, it continues northward to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast, up the Howe Sound. The northern part includes the Squamish, Cheakamus, Elaho and Mamquam rivers. Up the Cheakamus River it includes land past Whistler, British Columbia. The southern and eastern part of their territory includes Indian Arm, along Burrard Inlet, through False Creek then English Bay and Point Grey.[4][6]:34 Today the Squamish people live mostly in seven communities, located in West Vancouver, North Vancouver, and within and nearby to the District of Squamish.

The Squamish people’s history, culture, societal customs, and other knowledge was transmitted by oral tradition from generation to generation without a writing system. Today oral tradition continues to be a fundamental aspect of their traditional culture.[6]:28–29 This continued until European contact and diseases in 1791, which caused drastic changes to the people and culture.[7] Charles Hill-Tout became the first European to document Squamish oral history in the early 1900s. Later, many anthropologists and linguists came to work with Squamish informants and elders to document Squamish culture and history. Although first recorded contact with Europeans happened with George Vancouver and José María Narváez in 1791–1792.[8] Disease had devastated much of the population before in the 1770s.[9] For decades following, more diseases, including influenza, reduced the population significantly. Along with the influx of new foreigners, usurpation of their ancestral lands, and later policies of assimilation by the Canadian government, caused a significant shift in their culture, way of life, and society.


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