Dakelh law recognizes the heads of our extended families as Keyoh holders.
This law, and this title, predates the creation of the Indian Bands and Indian Reserves by the governments of British Columbia and Canada about 100 years ago. The Bands and their Reserves are situated on just a small part of a few keyohs, but the governments assigned the members of dozens of keyohs to membership in these newly invented Bands. The Bands were not given title to, or authority over, the keyohs when the Bands were created, and they have not somehow obtained this title or authority in the intervening 100 years.
Today the families of the keyohs remain members of the Indian Bands, but none of these families have ever authorized those bands to act on their behalf. The Indian Bands are delegated government agencies, managing health, education, housing, social assistance and other programs on behalf of the federal and provincial governments. The Chief and Council of the Indian Bands are elected by the Band members to administer these programs. The Bands have no role or jurisdiction in the affairs of the keyohs. Though we are all members of the Bands, no family has any say in the affairs of another family’s keyoh.
The head of each family is known as a Keyoh Holder, and sometimes receives a name that is passed on from generation to generation. The name, and the property, rights and responsibilities that go with this title were usually passed from one family head to his or her successor at an ilhunahodulh (gathering), a feast to which the people of neighbouring keyohs were invited as witnesses.