About this object

History of use

Mats made from inner cedar bark served a variety of uses such as; dividers for privacy, eating, sleeping, keeping out drafts, protection of canoe cargo, drying berries, covering food boxes, gambling on, given as gifts. Some women gave birth on a clean mat and bodies of the deceased would be wrapped in a mat and then placed in a mortuary box. Mats were used ceremonially by all Northwest Coast people with some variations.


Fort Nass was built at the mouth of the Nass River 1831. It was soon renamed Fort Simpson after Captain Aemilius Simpson who chose the site and died four months after its establishment. In 1834 the fort was moved and reestablished at the Tsimshian summer village of Lax Kw’alaams, twenty miles north of Prince Rupert. This is an ancient camping spot of the Gispaxlo'ots tribe. By 1857, 2300 natives lived at the site, primarily Tsimshian members of the nine tribes: Gispaxloats, Gitnaxangiik, Gitsiis, Gitnadoiks, Gitandoh, Gilutzau, Gitwilgiots, Gitzaxlaal and Gitlan. The first HBC factor at the new Fort Simpson was Dr. John Frederick Kennedy, who married the daughter of the Gispaxloats Chief Legaic as part of the diplomacy which established the fort on Gispaxlo'ots territory. Kennedy served at Fort Simpson until 1856.
In 1880 the community was renamed Port Simpson. The Tsimshian community refers to the community as Lax Kw’alaams.
The Tsimshian band council of Port Simpson requested in 1985 that its community name be changed to Lax Kw'alaams. Meaning "place of wild roses" in Tsimshian. The change was officially made in July 1986, based on agreement by the names committee members for British Columbia and the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Canada Post also renamed its post office.

Cultural context


Specific techniques

The mat is woven in a simple plaiting technique 2 edges are finished by folding the warps under and securing the ends with a row of twining.

Physical description

Square cedar bark mat with a checkerboard-like weave. Six bands of dark brown-grey stripes with two solid stripes running along either end.