Our History

The Yekoochet'en (people of Yekooche) have lived in the Stuart Lake area for thousands of years. Situated in a rich area encompassing the Skeena and Fraser watersheds, the community prospered until the arrival of the Europeans.

In the beginning, the Yekoochet'en (also known as the Portage Band) shared their resources and knowledge allowing the Hudson's Bay Company to establish a lucrative fishery on Yeko Bun (Cunningham Lake) and to freight goods between Stuart and Babine Lakes.

Over the next 150 years the Yekoochet'en saw their rights and way of life consistently eroded as trappers, prospectors and resource companies were given access to their traditional lands.

During this time many children were removed from the village at Portage and sent to residential schools where they were prevented from using their own language or practicing their cultural beliefs. Many of the Elders in the community remember those days and share stories of what happened to them when they were cut off from their families.

Za Mari & Azeelake


In 1959, for the purposes of settling reserve lands disputes the Federal Government amalgamated the communities of Tache, Pinche, Portage (Yekooche), Grand Rapids and Middle River into one large Band called the Stuart-Trembleur Lakes Band. In 1987 the Stuart-Trembleur Lakes Band changed their name to the Tl'azt'en Nation. In 1994 the Portage Band left Tl'azt'en Nation to form their own community taking their 4 reserve areas with them and became known as the Yekooche First Nation.

The traditional language of the Yekoochet'en is Carrier which is somewhat similar to French. The name Carrier is believed to have derived from an old tradition which dictated that when a husband died, his wife carried his ashes for a year. The arrival of the fur trade and the Hudson's Bay Company added more french influences to the language.

Ye Koo Che in Carrier translates to the location of the community as "Ye Koo" refers to Cunningham Lake and "Che" refers to the end or tail of Nankut Creek.

Today, the Yekoochet'en are actively involved in protecting what remains of their land and have entered the treaty-making process as a means of preparing themselves for the future. Believing in their role as "stewards" of the land within their traditional territories they hope to fulfill a greater role in conservation and safeguarding of their culture and way of life while developing through working partnerships some of the economic opportunities which have been denied them in the past.

In the interest of supplying a more secure future for their people and with the support of the Elders, the Chief and Council have implemented the Community Transformation Plan which is addressing the identified needs of the community including economic development, health and wellness, community policing and education.



Yekooche First Nations is located in North Central British Columbia
See our Contact page for Finance and Band Office Info or email.