More than 50o people toured the ancient Huu-ay-aht village of Kiixin this summer, as part of a pilot project that ran from July until September 29.
Inhabited by Huu-ay-aht ancestors for more than 5,000 years, Kiix̣in is the only known remaining complete traditional First Nations village with significant standing house remains and is commemorated as a National Historic Site.
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, Kiixin is the site of a nineteenth century village and fortress that exhibits evidence of occupation dating to 1000 B.C. and is the only known First Nation village of the more than 100 villages on the southern B.C. coast that still features significant, standing traditional architecture.
The public had the opportunity to hike the trail to Kiixin while exploring an old-growth rainforest and protected beaches. Each tour was guided by Huu-ay-aht traditional knowledge holders who provided participants with stories of history and culture.
The Huu-ay-aht hosted 53 different tours for 501 participants during the 2017 Kiixin pilot tours. Visitors came from all over, including B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Germany, France, England, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and Korea and ranged in age from 18 to 74. Some visitors were already in Bamfield and then took the tour after finding out about it, and many participants travelled to Bamfield specifically to take the Kiixin tour.
“We have developed the Kiixin Tourism Strategy,” said Trevor Cootes, an elected Huu-ay-aht councillor who holds the economic development portfolio. “It’s the name of our tourism plan, and it’s also the name of the tours to our ancient village site that we offered this summer as a pilot project. The pilot project and tours were very successful, not only in terms of the number of tours and positive feedback from tour participants, but also in positively contributing to the tourism industry in the Bamfield area.”
The site has four distinct archaeological sites, according to a written history found on the Huu-ay-aht website: the main village of Kiix̣in, including the standing remains of eight houses; the fortress site; a small midden; and a midden with remains of three houses. The Huu-ay-aht moved from Kiix̣in in the 1880s, and the village has been untouched ever since.
Plans are being discussed to launch with full tours next season from May to September.