Fsem-Y-How

Fsem-Y-How (The Story of the settling of Tsunyow)

In the flat place on the west bank of the big canyon Neas Hiwas (name of chief) chose his camp site.  Below them the waters of the Skeena raced through the rocky gorge. Upstream, it spilled over the great clay dams of the beavers. Downstream the river widened out in quieter waters.  Here the Men of Medeek, battle worn and weary, awaited the return of the young chiefs who had gone out to view the land.  At last they came.  They brought news, good news, wonderful news!

Those who had travelled down the west bank came with tales of shallow moutain creeks, of salmon in their hordes lying on the gravelled bottoms. Of a wide valley a few miles down the stream. That valley reached away to the north and to the south. It gave promise of abundant game.  Those who had crossed the beaver dam and ranged the eastern bank came with good tidings. Across the Lake they had found the Crekk Guetz. It, too, had appeared a good place to take salmon with spear and gaff.  Across the rocky point that made the canyon and downstream from it, the Kleanza, another creek, offered good fishing. Its channel ran miles back into the mountain's heart. In the valley game abounded.  Best of all was the word of the men who had gone still further south on that side of the river.

A few miles below Kleanza they had come to a swift river that flowed down a great gorge. Fish swarmed in its waters. Here they had sensed something that would change the fortunes of the Bear People (Men of Medeek, also used as a family crest).  They had followed that river upstream for a few miles - they had found camps that they recognized, camps that a few years ago they had used!  They had found some of the resting places they had stopped at as they hunter their new territory of Guell Haast (means single fireweed, also used as a family crest. Also indicates the southern boundary of their hunting territory).  The thing was clear.

From Tum-L-Hama (large village of the upper Skeena and also the ancestral home of that family) they had crossed a great mountain range to come to the river Zymoetz (Copper River). Now they had found where it poured its waters into the Skeena.  No longer were they faced with the fierce toil of packing food up steep slopes and over crests. From this time on they could travel the valley bottom and on good trails bring much food to the people.

So, at last, the reward had been granted.  The care, the diligence and slow maturing decisions of Neas Hiwas had reached a rich fruition.  Many places had he looked over. Pleasant valleys had offered haven. But, always, something had been lacking.  Now he had those things he had longed for. Here, his people would have good fishing that would be unhampered by the varying levels of the river. There was no need for building great weirs to hold the fish until they could be taken. Instead, with gaff and spear, the river's harvest was assured.  Good hunting, too, in the flanking mountains behind the camp, and especially, across the river, up the valley of the Zumoetz (Zymoetz), his hunters could range as far as Guell Haast (southern boundary of hunting territory). All could be done in safety and comparative ease.

The die was cast.  Fsem-Y-How (the village of Tsunyow), the city on the banks of the Canyon, began to take its form.  From that day the Men of Medeek came to be known as "Kit-Se-Las" - "The Dwellers on the Canyon."  The flat ground on which they built their city was roughly half moon in shape.

Along the river front, as was the custom of the People, the Chiefs built their houses. Here was established the centre of Government - The Street of Chiefs.  Behind this two other streets ran, each parallel with the one in front.  Facing the streets, the people of lesser ranks established their homes.  Down the steep mountain side they brought their timbers. Temporary shelters were erected at first. These, as the moons passed, were replaced by more solid structures.

The long trek was over. The people had come Home.