Musqueam


MUSQUEAM  () (X'muzk'i'um) are a Coast SALISHAN FIRST NATIONS group (see HALKOMELEM) who have lived on the north shore of the FRASER R near its mouth for at least 3,000 years. The site of their main village is now a reserve in VANCOUVER. The Musqueam took advantage of the rich fishery resources of the Fraser and also used other resource sites at least seasonally in BURRARD INLET, throughout the Fraser Delta, up the river and on the GULF ISLANDS. It was the Musqueam who met the earliest coastal explorers, including Dionisio ALCALÁ-GALIANO, George VANCOUVER and Simon FRASER. The Musqueam were not involved in the FUR TRADE for SEA OTTER pelts, but from the 1870s they were involved in SALMON CANNING and LOGGING. Their numbers were seriously depleted by early SMALLPOX epidemics, which periodically swept up the coast beginning in the 1780s. Like other First Nations groups they experienced a rebound in population during the 20th century; there were about 1,000 registered members of the band in 2005.

Although they were traditionally fishers, the Musqueam became interested in land development in the 1940s, when they leased large tracts of their land to CHINESE farmers. Subsequently they arranged to lease some of their holdings along the Fraser R to timber companies in need of a place to store log booms. Many members of the community began working as stevedores as a result of these arrangements. Using the federal government as an agent, the band leased land to a golf club in 1957 and developed upscale housing subdivisions during the 1960s. These arrangements embroiled the band in contentious legal squabbles with tenants and the federal government but the courts upheld the Musqueams' right to manage their lands. In 2007 the provincial government transferred to the Musqueam lands in Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Richmond, as well as the University Golf Course, which the band agreed would continue as a golf facility until 2083.