Hope stands on the traditional grounds of the Stó:lō village of Ts’qo:ls. Evidence of this village can be found at our local Indigenous owned and operated Telte-Yet Campground. Here, pit house depressions are located, dating back to the 1800s or earlier.
The largest pit house on this site belonged to Sexyel (pronounced ‘sux-youl’) also known to many as Captain Charlie. Sexyel was born in the Fraser Canyon village of Aseláw in 1841. His Halq’émeylem name translated to “shuffling his feet” which referred to his method of hunting grizzly bear.
The only weapon he used was a specially carved bone which was about 24 cm long with a strap which served as a handle grip. When Sexyel approached a grizzly bear he danced from side to side, shuffling his feet very swiftly. Once the frustrated bear lunged toward him with its mouth wide open, he shoved the bone into the grizzly bear’s mouth which worked almost instantly.
Remarkable events concerning Sexyel’s life were recorded by Bishop George Hills in his diary of 1860: “I had a conversation today with Skiyou a noted bear hunter. He was sent on an expedition to explore a new pass to the Similkameen River. On his way he shot a bear. The animal fell. He went forward to skin it when suddenly it rose up and fought with him. For some time the engagement lasted leaving Skiyou the victor but dreadfully wounded. The bear seized him and mutilated many parts of his person. He bled profusely from his wounds. He never-the-less attempted to crawl home. For ten days he was almost without food. Yet strange to say he reached Hope (T’sqó:ls) at last.”
Sexyel passed away on March 9, 1923 at the age of 82 and was buried in the cemetery on Lukseetsissum at Ruby Creek.