Popkw’em is a member of the Tit Tribe and is located in the between Hope and Agassiz BC. Popkw’em has two reserves, Popkum IR1 and Popkum IR2.


About the Name – Popkw’em

Popqkw’em is the Halq’eméylem word meaning “puffballs”; it may also have to do with using puffs of smoke to send messages and warnings about raiders. In the 1700 and 1800’s the puffball mushrooms, that were plentiful in the Popkum area, were an important food source for the local people. When the mushrooms first came out of the ground the First Nations people would dry them out in the sun for use later in the year.

Popkw’em – Its History

popkum2Wilson Duff, in his MA thesis, quoted Robert Joe: “Popkum, at the lower end of the Tait area, formed a separate small tribe with territory along both sides of the river but not extending very far back into the mountains.” Wilson Duff further described Popkum as the southernmost Tait Village located on the east bank where the river narrows a mile below Seabird Island. Robert Joe said that it was a large village of a small tribe from Popkum to Skwatac (Squatits). He added that house pits can still be seen just where the small creek which flows from Cheam Lake. Edmond Lorenzetto named Popkum as one of the villages which had been inhabited “from way back”. Boas elevated Popkum to tribal status with a village of the same name. Salmon used to come into Popkum Lake and go into the different creeks to spawn. In the 1940s and 1950s Fraser Valley Chemicals and Popkum Marl Products began extracting marl* for agricultural purposes along the shores of the lake. By 1949 Cheam Marl Products was strip mining on the northeast corner of the lake. In 1961 Cheam Marl Products, with the approval of the Department of Fisheries, drained the lake to continue strip mining. When taking out the marl they found salmon skeletons 4 and 5 feet long. It was a sad day for the First Nations when Popkum lake got drained! The mine closed in 1988 after a total of 586,512 tons of marl had been produced.

popkum3On or about June 16th 1879, Popkum First Nation was allotted 381 acres by the land commissioner William Sproat. The Original Survey took place in 1880, in 1881 it was amended, due to the waterfront accretion. In addition, Popkum I.R 1 gained approximately 8 more acres, although this was not a part of the reserve, it was only for the use and benefit of the Band of Indians that reside on Popkum land. The survey was then confirmed by Indian Reserve Commissioner P. O’Reilly in 1892. It wasn’t until June 6th, 1963 that this land was registered with Indian Affairs of Canada. Popkum I.R. 1 and Popkum I.R. 2 are located on the Fraser River 18 km northeast of Chilliwack and 4 km west of Hope. The reserves total 149.70 hectares. The name “Popkum” has been adopted by the non-Aboriginal community located near Popkum I.R. 1 and 2. The Mount Cheam Senior Citizens Association published a booklet about Popkum in which they ask “whatever happened to Popkum?” They lamented the move by the B.C. government to rename everything in the area “Bridal Falls”.

Vicky Kelly

Popkw’em – Population

popkum4Popkwe’em is the smallest of the SXTA communities with only 12 members.