First People of the Alberni Valley

Rich fishing, fertile forests, and a comfortable climate have made the Alberni Valley a preferred location for many communities, going back thousands of years for the regions First People.

The Hupacasath people have owned, used, and occupied their traditional territory on Central Vancouver Island for millennia. Known as the most inland tribe on Vancouver Island, their territory includes the north end of the Alberni Inlet, Sproat Lake, Great Central Lake and the settled part of the Alberni Valley.

The traditional territory of the Tseshaht people extends out to the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound, which they used as their traditional summer residence. The Tseshaht oral histories share that they were created on Benson Island, in the Broken Group.

Located in the Barkley Sound region, at the entrance to Alberni Inlet, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a self-governing, modern treaty Nation. Huu-ay-aht First Nations Council and Hereditary Chiefs (Ḥaw̓iiḥ) are actively seeking opportunities to engage in responsible and sustainable economic development to forward the Huu-ay-aht vision of working together to establish a healthy, prosperous, and self-sustaining community.

With two villages southwest of Port Alberni, about 38 km down the Barkley Sound, the Uchucklesaht First Nation have blessed islands, soaring mountains, lakes, and thriving rivers and streams. The Uchucklesaht Nation’s rich cultural traditions are inspired by and aligned with the natural beauty of the Uchucklesaht Lands.

The Hupacasath, Tseshaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Uchucklesaht First Nations are four of the 14 nations that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the not-for-profit society providing services and support to the approximately 10,000 members on Vancouver Island.

To learn more about the region’s First people, visit the Ahtsik Native Art Gallery, to enjoy a variety of native art, or stop at Sproat Lake Provincial Park to view one of the most striking panels of prehistoric petroglyphs in B.C. make sure you stop at the Tseshaht administration building, winner of two prestigious architectural awards, on the bank of the Somass River by the Highway 4 bridge.