Daily Archives: February 25, 2010

Destruction of Kwalate Village

Major landslide scar near Kwalate Village. Source: panoramio user Obslord.

Yesterday’s post about Marianne Nicolson’s powerful pictograph in Kingcome Inlet and the post from a few days ago about the enormous Tsunami in Lituya Bay got me thinking again about recent work in Knight Inlet on the central B.C. Coast (map).

A recent project by a team of geomorphologists and an archaeologist, UVic’s own Duncan McLaren, investigated oral historical accounts about Kwalate Village of the A’wa’etlala and Da’naxda’xw peoples, of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations.  The accounts state that a landslide in Knight Inlet triggered a local Tsunami which swept this village away. This account is known anthropologically through a number of sources, including Franz Boas (1910, Kwakiutl Tales):

“About three generations ago, or possibly at an earlier date, a large portion of the mountain opposite Kwalate Point slid into the inlet causing a huge tidal wave which wiped out all of the inhabitants of the village opposite…and the vast slide is noticeable today”.

Of course, the story of the destruction of Kwalate is still told and the dead, unknown in number but perhaps up to one hundred, are still mourned and memorialized in the surrounding communities.  While it is not necessary, or even desirable or possible, for archaeology to confirm oral historical accounts, when that happens it can be of interest to archaeologists and First Nations people alike. Continue reading

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