The other bays of northern Hunter
also have evidence of ancient settlements. Although the archaeological remains are not as concentrated, large, or as old as in central Húy̓at, they are impressive, nonetheless. All the ancient settlements of northern Hunter Island were connected socially to some degree and formed the larger community of Húy̓at.
Due to depopulation through introduced diseases, many of our ancient settlements were not permanently inhabited by the time Europeans came to our territory, although people maintained connections to many of these places. The few written accounts of Heiltsuk settlements provide glimpses into just how impressive these places were millennia ago. In the following quote, physician William Fraser Tolmie is describing the house of Ǧviúst̓izas. The posts he describes closely resemble ones that are currently housed in the Brooklyn Museum. Interestingly, the image on the post looks like Chief Wígviḷba (Eagle Nose). In the
Wolf Children Story
Wígviḷba is C̓uṃ́qlaqs’ brother, and Ǧviúst̓izas was her son. Archaeologists have dated this site to at least 2000 years old.
“Crossed an arm of the sea about two miles broad (the passage leading to Niwity) & making a portage between two small islands (which at ebbtide form only one) entered as spacious bay at the head of which saw a winter village of Boston’s Sept – the houses of the three great chiefs Boston, Kaghetasso & Umcheets were most conspicuous except the house of a chief lately deceased, Qyostogous which exceeded all the others in size-- the posts of the latter were about 12 feet high & 18 or 24 in. in diameter – the lower half carved into hideous monsters intended to represent men - the carving is tolerable but their ideas of proportion bad, the head being immensely large – the figures are in a sitting posture & holding a child between the knees. The head is surmounted with a hat resembling an inverted water pail – nose aquiline, eyes large & staring & mouth of very capacious dimensions – paint red, white & black is liberally daubed on the face to color the eyeballs, eyelashes, cheeks, lips &c – higher on the post a nondescript looking quadruped is carved. I should have mentioned, that only the frame of the houses are standing, the walls being carried away when the camp is broken up -- the beams are fixed to the posts by a mortice and tenon joint – which alone is ornamented with the specimens of Sculpture. Nettles are springing up around all the houses & the southern aspect of one islet in the middle of the bay is covered with gooseberry bushes in nearly full foliage. Found clay at two streamlets near the village. Small wooded islets are scattered throughout the bay which is at the base of a mountain about 3000 feet high called Munskumachtlie [M̓ṇ́sǧṃ́x̌λi].”
- William Fraser Tolmie, April 1834