Who We Are:
Snaw-Naw-As (Snaw-naw-as) is the name for our people, after the sole survivor of a battle in the 1800’s, according to AANDC formerly INAC we are the Nanoose First Nation, as we are located in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia. Along with 18 other tribes in the Salish Sea we are Coast Salish people, one of the northern most tribes on the east side of Vancouver Island.
We speak Hul’q’umi’num’, which is 1 of 3 branches of the Halkomelum dialect spoken from Nanoose down to Oregon,.Today’s community is situated 30 minutes north of Nanaimo, B.C., with a land base of 54 hectares, our community is split by the Island Highway, and the E & N Railway.
As with a majority a first nation tribes and villages the idea of a reserve was unfamiliar to most, as was the law which permitted the white settlers to pre-empt land for their own use, land over which the Indians previously had roamed at will. On the south eastern base of Nanoose Hill (Notch) is the location of one of our main villages, history has proven that the location of today’s village site was a camping site mainly used in the summer time, for an abundance in its shellfish aquaculture.
Today the Department of National Defense occupies many hectares of land that the Nanoose people historically used for hunting, gathering, digging, watchouts, fishing among other traditional practices; today an agreement has been signed that allows the Nanoose people to host activities in some of D.N.D. land.
The Nanoose like many other Coast Salish tribes in the Salish Sea belonged to the bighouse way of life, in the 1920’s or thereafter was the last age that saw bighouses in our territory.
We hold much value to other cultural practices such as canoe pulling, song/drumming, the arts, natural resource extraction i.e. hunting, fishing, gathering, & shellfish aquaculture etc. we find ourselves committing to a way of life that has allowed for our people to survive many generations; although modernization and shrinking land base have eroded some of our practices; we still do our best to carry ourselves as our forefathers have once done.