In 2006, Xeni Gwet received a $125,000 grant from Northern Development through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program towards this $480,543 project. This has been a funding partnership of Xeni Gwet'in First Nation Government, Northern Development, BC Capacity Initiative, Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Education Centre Society, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Ministry of Agriculture, and Western Economic Diversification
2012- Amongst the mountains and lakes of the Chilcotin reside the Tsilhqot’in people of Xeni. Located a few hours drive south west of Williams Lake, the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation is one of six Tsilhqot’in communities and have been very successful in maintaining their language and culture, while preserving the pristine wilderness, and protecting the wildlife within their ancestral homelands that their culture and tradition depend on. In 2006, Northern Development partnered with the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation to support the construction of a traditional village site on the eastern shore of Chilko Lake within the Nemiah Valley. This traditional village now serves as an anchor for the Xeni Gwet’in peoples’ much larger community vision for job creation based on sustainable cultural tourism development.
The goal of the traditional village was to create a cultural tourism destination which complimented the existing wilderness and adventure tourism operations in the area as well as existing annual events such as the Brittany Gathering, Elders Gathering, and Xeni Gwet’in Rodeo and Mountain Race. It also serves as an ideal venue for the Tsilhqot’in People of Xeni to present the stories of their history on the land, demonstrate their traditions, and celebrate their culture.
The traditional village site construction was based on traditional winter lodges used by the Tsilhqot’in First Nations.The site is used for drumming, storytelling, cultural displays and community celebrations. The village also includes a dock and covered picnic/activity area which allows the Xeni Gwet’in to use the site during inclimate weather and take advantage of neighboring lodge guests that travel to the site by boat. The site allows a place for their language and history to thrive. The traditional village site allows the Xeni Gwet’in to develop local jobs and skills while teaching international visitors and neighbours about the history and traditions of the Tsilhqot’in people.
"We have a proven sustainable wilderness tourism industry that dates back over 70 years. The traditional village is now a wonderful opportunity to showcase and strengthen the future of Tsilhqot'in culture and build on the international recognition of this pristine area that has been established over decades. There has been a lot of community involvement right from planning the concept throughout construction. It was very much something the community said they wanted. In our small way, we're all working together to reconnect with the land. Everybody is pretty excited about it."Nancy Opperman, Project Manager, Xeni Gwet'in First Nation Government
The Xeni Gwet'in Traditional Village is expected to create six to eight seasonal jobs once fully operational. In addition, the First Nation anticipates the site will create opportunities for a number of new small businesses offering additional services, products, and tourism opportunities to guests. The village continues to create spin-off enterprise that employs people in the Nemiah Valley in construction, hospitality, stock management, infrastructure maintenance, guiding, handicraft sales, and cultural interpretation.