Carrier and Sekani people historically have resided in a vast territory, of over 76,000 kilometres, primarily located in North Central British Columbia. Today there are approximately 22 Indian Bands or First Nations, as recognized by the Department of Indian Affairs that identify as being Carrier or Sekani societies. The population represented by Carrier Sekani First Nations comprises over 10,000 individuals.
Among the Carrier and Sekani people there are distinct groupings, which maintain geographic and linguistic characteristics different from other groupings of Carrier people.
Within the Carrier and Sekani traditional territories, there are distinct groupings, which maintain geographic and linguistic characteristics different from others. There are a few distinct linguistic dialects of the Athabaskan language family, Babine-Wet’suwet’en (sometimes referred to as Northern Carrier) Sekani and Carrier. Speakers of Babine-Wet’suwet’en identify themselves and their language as Carrier. Linguists regard them as separate ‘sister’ languages based on the sufficient differences between them. Another related language is that of the Chilcotin to the south. Although there are differences, speakers between the three languages can most often understand each other.
Specific to Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) member Nations, Babine-Wet’suwet’en is spoken by people from around Babine Lake, and Takla Lake (including the Nations of Lake Babine Nation, and Takla First Nation). Historically, some members of Takla lake also spoke Sekani, as some members of the band identify as both Carrier and Sekani (stemming from amalgamation of the Fort Connelly Band and the North Takla Bands in 1959). Wet’suwet’en is spoken in the Bulkley Valley area around Broman Lake and Skins Lake (including Nee Thai Buhn Band, Skin Tyee First Nation, and Wet’suwet’en First Nation). The Babine-Wet’suwet’en dialects spoken around Babine Lake are very similar to those of people from Morricetown and Hagwilget.
Within the Carrier language groups there are two dialect subgroups including the Stuart-Trembleur Lake group and a Southern Carrier group. The Yekooche dialect is a part of the Stuart-Trembleur Lake Group along with the neighboring communities of Tl’azt’en, Binche and Nak’azdlih. The Southern Carrier group consists of two subgroups, the Fraser-Nechako Group and the Blackwater group. The Fraser-Nechako subgroup includes the CSFS member Nation's of Saik’uz, Nadleh, Stellat’en, Cheslatta, Burns Lake Band, who all speak dialects very similar to that of the Lheidli T’enneh which is also included in the sub-group. The Blackwater group is comprised of the southern Carrier communities of Kluskus, Nazko, Red Bluff and Ulgatcho. Although speakers of all Carrier dialects can communicate with each other, there are distinct diversities between them.
Carrier people maintain a governance system commonly referred to as the bah'lats or potlatch. Four primary clans make up Carrier society Likh ji bu (Bear), Gilhanten (Caribou), Jihl tse yu (Frog), and Likh sta Mis yu (Beaver), each with several sub-clans. Most Carrier Nations still hold regular bah'lats feasts, although some do not.
Carrier Nations are not exempt from the impacts of colonization which have negatively impacted the lives of First Nations people across Canada. Impacts stemming from legislation such as the Indian Act, the residential school system and the band Council systems based on the world views of European settlers have manifested in a number of impacts including high child apprehension and incarceration rates, poverty and underemployment, and poor health and educational outcomes compared to other Canadian citizens.
In addition to community practices such as the bah'lats which are a source strength in maintaining culture and language, Carrier and Sekani peoples have developed institutions such as Carrier Sekani Family Services to reassert control in areas that have been sources of attack on community values and teachings. Carrier Sekani Family Services is governed by a board of Directors consisting of representatives from each of our member Nations and assumes responsibility for holistic wellness services including health, social, legal and research services for our respective Nations.
Updated December 18, 2018
Last modified: Thursday 10-Dec-20 14:12:04 PST