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The Hupačasath First Nations traditional territory is very grand compared to other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. The territory is approximately 229,000 hectares, which engulfs the whole Alberni Valley. The boundaries for this territory are basically the mountain peaks from the Alberni Valley, which start from the north at Mt. Chief Frank, from the south at 5040 Peak and Hannah Mountain, from the east at Mt. Arrowsmith and Mt Spencer, and from the west from Big Interior Mountain. This territory contains some of the most valuable forest, fish and marine resources in the world. The winds formed by the warm offshore currents of the Pacific Ocean create a tepid maritime climate with a summer dry period. This creates vast forests of western red cedar, yellow cedar, douglas fir, hemlock and balsam. The lakes and rivers contain all five species of Pacific Salmon as well as Steelhead and Trout.
Five Reserves in Hupačasath Territory
Ahahswinis (Reserve #1)
Inside the Hupačasath territory there are five reserves. Ahahswinis is located on the north side of the Somass River in Port Alberni. This is the main village of the Hupačasath tribe. In the past the people here conducted several activities such as hunting, fishing, potlatching, berry and fruit picking etc. Currently this reserve is home to the majority of the Hupačasath people and some of the people still conduct some of the activities on this reserve that their ancestors did in the past as well.
Kleekoot (Reserve #2)
Kleekoot is situated on the Stamp and Sproat Rivers just west of Sproat Lake. In the past, this place was used for mainly fishing purposes such as spearing fish, trapping fish in weirs, and preparing fish. Other activities done on this reserve were hunting, potlatching and berry picking. Today this place is home to a few Hupačasath Band members and there is still fishing and hunting in the area.
Cous (Reserve #3)
The third Hupačasath reserve in the territory is Cous. It is located on the west side of the Alberni Inlet adjacent to Lone Tree Point. There used to be a nice seasonal settlement at this place but it is now bare. This is a result of a death of a chief at this place. Chief Dan Watts died accidentally one day at Cous and after his death everyone left this place. This reserve was used for hunting and fishing purposes primarily. Today there is no one living there but people still go there to do activities such as picnicking, fishing and hunting.
Chu-ca-ca-cook (Reserve # 4)
Chu-ca-ca-cook is the smallest Hupačasath reserve. It is located on the west side of the Alberni Inlet just north of Nahmint Bay. This place used to be a fishing site and stop over spot for the Hupačasath people. In recent years however, there has been very little activity or inhabitance there.
Nettle Island (Reserve # 5)
Lastly, there is Nettle Island. This reserve is outside the Hupačasath territory in the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound. This property was purchased from Arthur Maynard in the early 1900’s. It was purchased because the Hupačasath people traveled down the inlet to Barkley Sound frequently to conduct business with other First Nations (i.e. trade and barter), to visit relatives, and to attend potlatches held in the area. Today Nettle Island is used for camping and seafood gathering. In addition, it is now part of the Pacific Rim National Park. Therefore, tourists from all over the world now travel to and around Nettle Island to partake in activities such as camping, fishing and kayaking.
Medicines and Caretakers
Medicines were collected throughout these areas at the appropriate times of year. It is also important to note that there were caretakers for each area or resource, to ensure that nobody abused the land and resources. This care for the territory was practiced year round. Prior to amalgamation, each chief of the three groups had their own people to care for the resources within their ha-houlthe. After amalgamation both the use of and care for the territory was shared.