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II: The Intervention of Khaals
In the words of Peter Pierre, Khaals, The Great Transformer, came to the world “to finish Swaneset’s work.” Much of Khaals’ work involves the separation of people from animals and the creation of new species of animals from people. In Peter Pierre’s narrative Khaals appears with two brothers and twelve servants, “mysterious strangers.” They arrive at a little nook on the west side of Boundary Bay. Khaals encountered a man and a woman there and “restoring their souls to the Lord above,” he changed the couple to stone, to stand as helpers to coming generations of people. From there Khaals proceeds to Tsawwassen and from Tsawwassen,
he travels up river continuing to perform such feats at a variety of places, each of which carry instructions to govern human behavior on earth.
The travels of Khaals comprise a great epic of the oral literature and it is referred to here only when it illustrates the extent of occupation of those territories identified with the descendants of Oe’lecten and Swaneset, or where the nature of Katzie possession of those territories is illustrated. At the mouth of the Pitt River, Khaals encounters a warrior. For his boastfulness, the warrior is turned to stone. Hearing the entreaties of the
villagers the warrior was there to protect, Khaals spares the people. The mouth of the Pitt River is known to the Katzie people for its important fishing sites that are used to this day. Several important
archaeological sites are situated around the mouth of the Pitt River and surface artifacts are routinely discovered along the riverbank.
From the Pitt, Khaals traveled up the Alouette, where he encounters a one-legged man fishing for steelhead salmon. At the close of this encounter, Khaals turns the man to stone; the “stone man” is still present at the place known as Davis pool, traditionally regarded by Katzie people as a significant ceremonial site.
Khaals’ instructions to the steelhead fisherman well illustrate the nature of Katzie title to the Alouette River’s fisheries resources:
“Henceforward you shall be lord of all fish that ascend this river. To strangers you shall grant none, but you shall know the Katzie Indians who occupy this territory and grant them fish in
From the Alouette River, Khaals turns back towards the Pitt River and encounters some of “Swaneset’s people” on the meadows near Sheridan Hill and turns them into suckerfish. All around the Sheridan Hill area and the “Pitt Polder” area, and around the mouth of Pitt Lake, Khaals encounters more people, and changes each in turn into various animals for the use and benefit of the Katzie people.
Khaals visits the ancestral village site first established by Oe’lecten in the immediate vicinity of what is now Grant Narrows Regional Park and finds
Oe’lecten is still the chief there. Khaals tells Oe’lecten, “I have traveled all through this country creating animals and fish for your use,” and sets about explaining to
him the proper ways of harvesting these resources. Khaals specifically identifies the fish resources of both the Alouette and the North Alouette rivers as being for Oe’lecten’s
Khaals encounters a "large tribe" living on Pitt Lake opposite Goose Island and changes them to underwater people who live to this day beneath the waters there. Before the tribe was sent underwater he ordered that their customs be painted on the rock bluff to warn outsiders that they would die from drinking the water in the
area: "Only Indians at the mouth of this lake would not die from drinking the water."
(In Peter Pierre’s narrative, he describes the death of a group of Nanaimo visitors to the area, in fairly recent times, after they drank the water from the lake in the vicinity.)
Khaals continues in his travels and completes a circuit around the entire lake and performs many miracles that produced not only new animals, but also land
forms and distinct weather patterns that are known to Katzie people to this day. Upon returning to Oe’lecten’s village Khaals teaches Oe’lecten two prayers. One to assist Oe’lecten and his people that title to the Pitt Lake country is vested and Khaals tells Oe’lecten, “You are the master of this lake in which I have created abundant food for you.”
Khaals then makes a brief visit to Swaneset and his people and finds them
"flourishing and content." Khaals also finds people living on Barnston Island and shortly thereafter, Khaals
"disappeared up the Fraser River, but whither he went no man knows."
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Follow these links for:
Cultural Sources of Katzie
Title and Rights
The Nature of Katzie Title
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