Xá:ytem facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsX̲áːytem
|Location||Hatzic, Mission, British Columbia, Canada|
|Current use||Active archaeological site and museum|
|Designated||4 June 1992|
X̲áːytem is an indigenous archaeological site and the name of a related museum run under the auspices of the Stoːlo people at Hatzic, British Columbia, Canada. X̲áːytem is approximately 80 kilometres east of Vancouver on Highway 7. It is reached via the bridge at Mission, about 15 kilometres from the border with the US state of Washington. The site was designated in 1992 as a national historic site of Canada, for its spiritual value to the Stoːlo people, as well as being one of the oldest discovered habitation sites at approximately 5000 years old. It is also known as Hatzic Rock.
Indigenous peoples occupied this area along the northern bank of the Fraser River for thousands of years. The historical peoples who encountered European colonists were the Stoːlo.
A large moss-covered boulder, known as a transformer rock and of deep spiritual importance, has survived from ancient times. According to the book You Are Asked to Witness, the transformer god XaːIs was travelling through the land and punished three siːyaːm for not adopting new ways to preserve and protect Stóːlō traditions and knowledge. To teach them a lesson, the god transformed them into stone.
Over time, during the years after alienation of native lands by colonization, the site of X̲áːytem had been used as a pasture. The property is adjacent to a highway built in the early 20th century. After it was sold to a developer and initial work on grading the site was begun, concerns about the site's potential archaeological value prompted an examination by Gordon Mohs. This led to the dramatic finding that it was immensely ancient, and it has been ranked among the oldest-known habitation sites in North America.
Following the discovery, the government arranged to transfer the land to the Stóːlō, the First Nation that has historically been in the area, for archaeological and museum purposes. It paid the erstwhile owner compensation for his lost opportunity in development; an extensive residential subdivision had been planned. The Stóːlō have built a museum, the X̲áːytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre, to educate visitors about the site.
Excavations have been carried out in consultation with the Stóːlō. Researchers have found at the habitation site "evidence of rectangular pit/ longhouses of long-term occupation with remains of post, hearth and floor features, trade goods, storage, food, and spiritual activity."
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