Grand Hall tour

Nuxalk House

The Nuxalk, or Bella Coola people, lived in at least forty-five villages located in a territory of mountains and sheltered fjords on the central coast. The word Nuxalk is derived from the term for the Bella Coola valley.

CMC T2004-003 (detail) The Nuxalk house in the Grand Hall is patterned after a house built in the village of Qwemqtc in the late 1800s, to represent Nusq'alst, a supernatural ancestor of Chief Clellamin, who built the house. Nusq'alst came down to earth from Nusmat'a, the land above, at the beginning of the world. This was a time when the supernatural ancestors of many Nuxalk families came down from Nusmat'a and established homes and family lines on earth. Nusq'alst settled in the Bella Coola valley and became a mountain, a place of immobilized power.

The right to reproduce the peaks of the mountain on the roof of his house was a prerogative inherited by Clellamin from his ancestors. The peaks and gables were painted blue and white to represent streaks of snow. Above the door of the house was the figure of a man, a hammer in his hand. With the hammer, he pounded on a plank of maple, welcoming guests to the house when there was a feast. A sign placed above the sculpture after Clellamin's death in 1893 commemorates Clellamin's life.

Chief Clellamin's house incorporated European architectural influences and techniques in a house which, in keeping with Nuxalk tradition, is the living representation of the history of a family.

You may enter the house.

The poles are:

  • Tallio Pole (left). This originally served as the entrance to a house in the Nuxalk village of Tallio. It was later made into a grave monument and the disc, which represents the sun, was added to the top. Below the disc are the mythical Cannibal Bird, Beaver, and an unidentified supernatural being.
  • Chief Qomoqua's Pole (right). This pole stood at the entrance of the house of Chief Qomoqua, two doors down from Chief Clellamin's house. The figures are, from the top: a supernatural chief with Killerwhale figures mounted as ears; the face of an Owl, who communicated the supernatural chief's wishes to human beings; the Eagle; the human chief, Qomoqua; and the supernatural being Qomoqua, who lived beneath the sea.