Government of Canada recognizes Nlaka’pamux Basket-Making as event of national historic significance

News release

Nlaka’pamux baskets were vital to all aspects of life from cradling babies to storing goods

September 4, 2018                                  Lytton, BC                  Parks Canada Agency

Nlaka’pamux women have long been skilled basket-makers. With the creation of each basket, the Nlaka’pamux women crafted a legacy that far exceeds the physical brilliance of each item. Basket-making is central to Nlaka’pamux cultural identity, signifying the role of women as culture bearers. The craft is a tangible expression of Nlaka’pamux culture, and embodies historical memory.

Today, Mr. Timothy Christian, British Columbia Member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, commemorated the national historic significance of Nlaka’pamux Basket-Making during a plaque unveiling ceremony in Lytton with members of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna

Before European arrival in the Plateau in the first decade of the 1800s, Nlaka’pamux baskets were an important commodity of the active trade networks that linked Interior Salish peoples to each other as well as with the peoples of the coast and the plains.

During a period of tremendous culture loss between 1850 and 1930, the production and marketing of baskets by Nlaka’pamux women provided an economic foothold for families and their communities, enabling women to support their families as colonialism disrupted Indigenous economies. However, by the 1950s, knowledge of basket-making among the Nlaka’pamux was on the verge of disappearing completely when a widespread appreciation for Indigenous arts began to return. By the 1970s, newly crafted Nlaka’pamux baskets were again being recognized as art of the very highest calibre. Today, there is a growing interest in basket-making among the Nlaka’pamux and other Salish weavers, ensuring the continued practice of this remarkable art form.

The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that shaped our country’s history. Parks Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to recognize, commemorate, and share Indigenous histories. The Government has recently announced funding for Parks Canada to incorporate Indigenous views, history, and heritage into national parks and historic sites. Working together with more than 300 Indigenous communities across Canada, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving, restoring, and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.


“The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. On behalf of the Government of Canada, we commemorate the national historic significance of Nlaka’pamux Basket-Making. These baskets embody the cultural identity of the Nlaka’pamux and the central role of women in its preservation. Historic designations reflect Canada’s rich and varied history and I encourage all Canadians to learn more about Nlaka’pamux Basket-Making and its important contributions to Canada’s heritage.”

Jati Sidhu,
Member of Parliament for Mission – Matsqui – Fraser Canyon

“Nlaka'pamux basket makers were highly respected by their own people and by their trading partners because of the exceptionally fine work of their baskets. The cedar roots were carefully prepared and then bound and coiled very tightly and decorated with imbricated patterns that complimented the shape of the basket. It is wonderful that this highly skilled, beautiful, and unique cultural tradition is being recognized nationally on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.”   

Jennifer Iredale,
Historian, Curator and Heritage Preservation, Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals

“It is a wonderful thing to pay tribute to these amazing women and their works of art, at once beautiful and functional.”

Dr. Nancy J. Turner,
Emeritus Professor, University of Victoria

“Both a vibrant art form and an essential and versatile component of the Nlaka’pamux historical economy, Nlaka’pamux coiled basketry has for centuries been a prominent part of the broader Salish basketry tradition. In honouring Nlaka’pamux basket makers, we acknowledge and honour the generations of women who, in practicing this art, supported the economy of their communities, and in transmitting the art from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, and grandmother to granddaughter, preserved a wealth of cultural knowledge for generations to come.”

Dr. Andrea Laforet,
Curator Emerita, Canadian Museum of History

Quick facts

  • The Nlaka’pamux, formerly known as the Thompson Indians, reside in British Columbia’s Interior Plateau, between the Coast Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east. They are one of the Interior Salish-speaking peoples in Canada.

  • The demand for Nlaka’pamux baskets increased in the 1850s with the development of several retail trends, including a growing trend for collecting Indigenous basketry among middle class and wealthy urbanites in North America that continued until the 1930s. Another source of demand came from museums in the 1890s that were accumulating Indigenous material culture for ethnographic purposes.

  • Parks Canada endeavours to work closely with our Indigenous partners through collaboration and consultation, encouraging our partners to share their knowledge, history, and expertise, such as in the programming and exhibits at Fort Langley National Historic site. 

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people, and events that have marked Canada’s history.

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Caroline Thériault
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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