Life in a Longhouse – A Story for National Aboriginal Day
Today is National Aboriginal Day. Join with us, and the rest of Canada, as we celebrate the rich culture and history of our local Aboriginal peoples.
Life in a Longhouse
I am Nuu-chah-nulth and I live in a longhouse. In our village, here are many houses like the one I live in. My whole family lives here: my mother and father, sister and baby brother, my grandmother too. Two other families from our village also live in our longhouse.
My sister and I help my mother and grandmother keep the home. They have shown us how to preserve berries and fish, how to cook and weave using cedar and kelp. We store dried food and fishing gear in cedar boxes along the sides of the longhouse under the benches.
After a great fishing trip, mother lets me climb up on stacked boxes to hang the fish in the rafters above our heads. She says the smoke from our fire dries out the fish so we can keep it over the wintertime. My sister says her favourite fish is the flat white fish because they can be as big as the table. I like the pink ones.
In two days the Chief will have a big celebration! Father says it is to celebrate our great wealth from the land and the sea. All the families will come together and have a big feast for three days. My sister and I love the feast because the elders in our village tell stories about our people! I cannot wait for my baby brother to be old enough, so I can tell the stories to him too.
At night my family goes to sleep in our area of the longhouse. We sleep on mats and Mother draws a long cedar curtain to separate our sleeping area from the other families in the house. Grandmother says I have to get lots of sleep so I can help her collect black berries in the morning. She wants to make something special for the feast.
*To learn more about Nuu-chah-nulth longhouses visit the interpretive display at the Kwisitis Visitor centre on Wickaninnish Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Head down to the Pacific Rim National Park today, June 21st, for festivities at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Wickaninnish Beach. There will be interpretive programming, children’s activities, native dancing and song, and a salmon BBQ.
Until next time,