BC First Nation People See Symbol of Their Ancestors’ Jurisdiction

Maiyoo Keyoh
May 16, 2017

BC First Nation People See Symbol of Their Ancestors’ Jurisdiction Earlier this week, the descendants of a central British Columbia First Nation Chief had their first look at ceremonial regalia he wore nearly 140 years ago.

Drawn by Father AG Morice OMI circa 1890

The headdress, inherited from his predecessors and now at least 200 years old, is in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). “This is important to us” Petra Sam said afterwards. “It’s a physical connection to our ancestors and a physical symbol of the jurisdiction, authority and responsibility they had, as Keyohwhudachun, to look after our keyoh.

“Each Keyohwhudachun passes that jurisdiction, authority and responsibility for the keyoh down to the next. A long unbroken line of Maiyoo Keyoh Keyohwhudachun predates the arrival of Europeans in our area, and this succession of Keyohwhudachun is in place to this day”.

Petra Sam’s mother, Sally Sam, is the current Keyohwhudachun and is the fifth-generation lineal descendant of Keyohwhudachun Sidoman (also known as George A’Huille). She was unable to make the long trip to Toronto, but Petra Sam, her husband Jim, four of their children and a niece met ROM staff and examined the headdress Monday morning.

from left to right, Rolene Sam, Fraswe Munroe, Seraphine Munroe, Charlotte Munroe, Petra Munroe, Anastazia Munroe, Jim Munroe. Photo credit David Carruthers

Petra Sam said Maiyoo Keyoh is about 17,000 hectares of land situated about 100 kilometers north west of Prince George. She said it’s one of the scores of keyohs that divide the land from Prince George west to Fort St James and beyond.

They are the First Nations landholdings in the area and existed long before the creation, by the provincial and federal governments, of Indian Bands, she said, “and we are preparing a Statement of Claim for the courts.”

The headdress was given to a catholic priest, Father Adrien Morice, in the 1880s or 1890s, she said, “but we don’t know which of our Keyohwhudachun gave the headdress to Father Morice”, she said. “It was either Koomdiel or his father, the previous Keyohwhudachun.”

Chief A’Huille family headdress used for potlatching

Morice eventually gave the headdress to a museum in Toronto that in turn gave it to ROM.

It is made of dentalia (flute shaped seashells) strung on the hair of revered female ancestors.

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For more information contact Jim Munroe, President, Maiyoo Keyoh Society, 250 305-7092
Keyohwhudachun headdress

Donate and help the Maiyoo Keyoh pursue their Rights & Title to protect the ancestral Maiyoo Keyoh Territory.

Globe and Mail on Maiyoo Keyoh Blockade

Donate and help the Maiyoo Keyoh pursue their Rights & Title to protect the ancestral Maiyoo Keyoh Territory.


Tensions flare between Maiyoo Keyoh and Canfor over removal of forests

Maiyoo Keyoh Blockade makes National News

Maiyoo Keyoh Blockade makes National News

Donate and help the Maiyoo Keyoh pursue their Rights & Title to protect the ancestral Maiyoo Keyoh Territory.

Keyoh Holder, Sally Sam at ancestral village of Susk’uz

Each extended family had their own village on their Keyoh. Susk’uz is the name of the village where Sally’s grandparents lived in pit houses. Susk’uz is also the location of Sally’s family’s grave yard. Susk’uz was the family’s main village site, along with a number of camps on the Maiyoo Keyoh. Other families had their own village and country or territory called a keyoh. Each family have historic rights to hunt, trap and fish with exclusive use and occupancy of their territory, use by others is by permission.


Notice of Aboriginal Title

Notice of Aboriginal Title

2002 Notice of Aboriginal Title

 On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a major ruling on aboriginal title in its Nation Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia decision.[1]

The Court confirmed and applied the conditions for establishing aboriginal title that it had set out earlier in Delgamuukw (which in turn built on the earlier test for aboriginal rights established in Van Der Peet). These conditions may be summarized as follows:

a)    the First Nations group must establish that the occupation of its territory prior to sovereignty was sufficient to ground aboriginal title;

b)    where present occupation is relied on as proof of occupation prior to Crown sovereignty, the First Nations group must establish continuity between present and pre-sovereignty occupation; and

c)    the First Nations group must establish that it had exclusive occupation of the land at the time of sovereignty, evidenced by its intention and capacity to retain exclusive control over the lands.

The Stuart Lake Carrier family groups with their Keyohs, such as the Maiyoo Keyoh, meet all the tests established for Aboriginal Title by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sally Sam, Keyohwhudachun

Chief Sally Sam, Keyohwhudachun, Maiyoo Keyoh

On July 5th, 2002, Chief Sally Sam, Keyohwhudachun of the Maiyoo Keyoh provided notice of the Maiyoo Keyoh’s Title and Rights to the Province of British Columbia.

Donate and help the Maiyoo Keyoh pursue their Rights & Title to protect the ancestral Maiyoo Keyoh Territory.


What the Keyoh means – by Sally Sam


First of all, I know that I am part of the land. When we were small, we lived in Maiyoo Keyoh with our parents. We lived there all year round. Even though I now have my own family in Fort St. James, I would rather be out in the wilderness. Continue Reading →