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Kiix?in Village and Fortress National Historic Site of Canada

Alberni-Clayoquot, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/12/15

Historic image of two welcome figures in front of a house at Kiix?in village, ca. 1905.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1905.
Historic image
Aerial view looking north to Kiix?in fortress, the bay and the beach in front of Kiix?in village, 1998.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1998.
Aerial view
General view of the houseposts with carved upper portions, 1998.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1998.
General view

Other Name(s)

Kiix?in Village and Fortress National Historic Site of Canada
Kiix?in Village and Fortress
Village et forteresse de Kiix?in
Village et forteresse de Kiix?in

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1800/01/01 to 1890/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

November 2001

the revised designated place for Kiix?in National Historic Site of Canada as illustrated on Map 1, p. 1407, Submission Report 2001-38

Heritage Value

Kiix?in Village and Fortress was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1999 because :
- as the traditional capital village of the Huu-ay-aht, a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, it is the only known First Nations village of the more than 100 villages on the southern British Columbia coast that still features significant, standing traditional architecture and which has a wealth of associated historic information from oral histories, archaeology, and archival records;
- it demonstrates continuous occupation of the area for almost 3, 000 years;
- it is characteristic of Nuu-chah-nulth defensive sites and warfare patterns, resource extraction and commercial practices, and illustrates changing Nuu-chah-nulth political and economic patterns in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The scientific and historic value of the site lies in its rarity as the only known First Nations village on the south coast of British Columbia that has retained its integrity, as well as in its contribution to the understanding of over 3000 years of continuous occupation. The main village (DeSh 1) contains evidence of ten houses, eight of which have traditional big house frames with timber posts, several having been carved, and beams that either remain standing or have fallen to the ground. The fortress site (DeSh-2) exhibits the outlines of five houses located on three platforms at different elevations. A small midden (DeSh 24) and a larger one (DeSh 25) with the remains of three more houses demonstrate continuous occupation of the area for almost 3,000 years, with the most recent occupation being the post contact establishment of Kiix?in Village and Fortress.

The natural features of the site made it an ideal location for occupation and defence. The two sandy beaches were used as landing sites for canoes, while the high rocky headlands provided a defensive stronghold and commanding views of the surroundings. Natural resources were abundant with intertidal and sub-tidal areas rich in invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals and seaweed. As a strategically located village, Kiix?in was central to coastal transportation, trade routes and shifting alliances of the Huu-ay-aht from approximately 500 B.C.E. to the late 19th century. By the 1880s, the Nuu-chah-nulth had moved from the village, but the site has remained important in the lives of its members for food gathering as well as ceremonial and spiritual purposes.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes December 1998; December 2002.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location at the interface between the exposed outer coast and the protected waters of Barkely Sound, British Columbia;
- the siting of the village on a well-drained terrace between a steep hill and a flat, broad beach bounded by two steep headlands;
- the siting of the fortress on a steep-sided, flat-topped, rocky promontory located at the centre of coastal transportation and trade routes along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island;
- the integrity of any surviving archaeological remains of the ten village houses, including the house platforms situated, house posts, beams and archaeological remnants;
- the fortress site, with outlines of at least five houses, and the remains of an earth and rock wall;
- the small midden site (DeSh 24) located beside a stream;
- the large midden site (DeSh 25) with remains of three houses associated with the Huu-ay-aht village of Tl’inhapis;
- any evidence of the original orientation of the village houses towards the water;
- any evidence of the high level of craftsmanship and symbolic meaning in the architecture including the carved “capitals” of some houseposts and the carved wooden head;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent;
- the found spatial relationships of the house remains to one another and to the fortress site;
- the cultural associations between the site and the Huu-ay-aht, including oral history, songs, and other ceremonial and spiritual activities;
- the unobstructed viewscapes from the fortress site across the water.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1998/12/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Historic or Interpretive Site

Historic

Defence
Military Defence Installation
Food Supply
Hunting or Resource Harvesting Site
Community
Settlement

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1870

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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