Fonds RBSC-ARC-1749 - Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Exhibit Archive

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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Exhibit Archive

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  • Multiple media

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  • 1984-1997 (Creation)
    Delgamuukw Trial
    Delgamuukw Trial Conclusion December 11, 1997

Physical description area

Physical description

28m of textual records and other materials

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Biographical history

The results of the Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Trial are considered a turning point in treaty negotiations, land use policy, and the recognition of the legal concept of Aboriginal title. The case concluded on December 11, 1997, and the Supreme Court of Canada observed that aboriginal title is an ancestral right protected by the Constitution Act of 1982. The action was brought forward by the 51 appellants, all Hereditary Chiefs either of the Wet’suwet’en Nation or Gitxsan Nation, and who individually or on behalf of their Houses and its members, claimed one or more separate specific portions of the 133 individual hereditary territories in Northwest British Columbia, totalling 58,000 square kilometres.

Custodial history

UBC Library and Rare Book and Special Collections acquired the collection in August 2014.

Scope and content

The Exhibit Archive consists of the evidence submitted by 51 Plaintiffs regarding the land claim area, and materials submitted by the Defense relating to the underlying title of the Crown to these lands. Textual records include correspondence, by-laws, land titles and drafts, research documents, affidavits, cross-examination transcripts, legal documents and reports, published material, genealogy charts, collections of sacred oral traditions, copies of records from the Hudson’s Bay Company and early settlers, written accounts of oral histories, trap-line data, expert testimonies of anthropologists, historians, linguists, biologists, and archaeologists, including all the background materials used by lawyers in the case. Other non-textual materials include maps and overlays, photographs, sound recordings of oral histories and songs, and audio-visual materials.

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Physical condition

Some rolled maps are water-damaged and crumbling. Some photocopied materials relating to the correspondence between early settlers and used as background research material in the case may be illegible.

Immediate source of acquisition

70 boxes of material and the oversized exhibits were transferred from the British Columbia Supreme Court in August 2014, made possible by a Consent order dated April 22, 2014.


When transferred to RBSC, the court exhibits were arranged in 70 boxes along with oversized exhibits and rolled maps. Records were marked with a court exhibit stamp, which shows the date the exhibit was submitted and whether the submission was from the Defence or Plaintiff. An exhibit can encompass a single document or ranges to a binder with several tabs. Records were not necessarily ordered by ascending exhibit number within the boxes. When the materials were rehoused, the original order that the exhibits were in according to the 70 boxes was maintained. The Item-level Inventory lists the current location of each exhibit. Exhibits with no exhibit numbers were assigned Rare Books and Special Collections in-house identifiers with the prefix "unmarked DK-TX", "unmarked DK-PH" or "unmarked DK-RM".

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note

Some of the recorded oral histories and testimonies are written in Indigenous languages. Background research which include copies of correspondence between early settlers is occasionally in French.

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Restrictions on access

Currently exhibits under schedule "A", "B", "C" are restricted. Only unscheduled exhibits (those designated as "D" or "Open") are available to the public. The Gitksan exhibits are restricted until a culturally appropriate access protocols is developed in consultation with the Gitksan First Nations. The Wet'suwet'en exhibits (all schedule B exhibits and schedule C exhibits pertaining to the Wet'suwet'en Nation) may be accessed with written permission from the Office of the Wet'suwet'en. Contact information may be obtained from the RBSC archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials may not be redistributed. Research or Personal use must be indicated. Photocopies for research must be stamped, and any products from the research must be shared with the Nations involved.

Finding aids

Detailed inventory available.

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Physical description

Includes 4630 Document Exhibits, 584 Photographs, 474 Maps and 54 Overlays, 14 Audio Cassette Tapes, and 118 VHS Tapes


Testimonies or materials submitted by individuals belonging to the Gitksan or Wet'suwet'en Nations are considered the intellectual and cultural property of the Gitksan or Wet'suwet'en.

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