This geocache is part of the Gold Country GeoTour – The Prequel: Be A Guest. This GeoTour focuses on a step back in time to learn about before the Gold Rush ensued: languages of the region’s culturally diverse families, handed down traditions such as recipes, flora and fauna, historic sites of significance, and points of interest. These stories will help preserve the oral languages and traditions of the region as well as assist in educating visitors and locals alike to the cultural diversity and environmental sensitivity of the region.
Frog Rock, Nicomen BC
At Nicomen in the Thompson River sits a large boulder out in the middle of the rapids. From just the right angles, this rock looks like that of a crouched frog. Frog Rock, as it is now known, is about halfway between Spences Bridge and Lytton. It was close to here where gold was first “discovered” in British Columbia.
For the Nlaka’pamux, first contact with explorers occurred in 1808, and the first 50 years saw Indigenous residents living in relative harmony with the initial explorers, with resident Indigenous people providing shelter, trading food, clothing and other wares with these first visitors. This harmony continued until gold was discovered and the Fraser Canyon War began and was fought until August of 1858. This War was also known as the Canyon War, and the Fraser River War. Nlaka'pamux were also known as the Couteau or "Knife" Indians, due to Europeans inability to pronounce or spell Nlaka'pamux.
Daniel Marshall writes in his book Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado “The year 1858 was a year of chaos unlike any other in Pacific Northwest history. It produced not only violence but the formal inauguration of colonialism, Native reserves, and, ultimately, the expansion of Canada to the Pacific Slope.” Marshall goes on to show “how foreign miner-militias crossed the 49th parallel, taking the law into their own hands and conducted extermination campaigns against Indigenous peoples” leaving Indigenous sovereignty still waiting for a full resolution today.
They told us, “your country is rich and you will be made wealthy by our coming. We wish just to pass over your land in quest of gold.” Soon they saw the country was good, and some of them made up their minds, to settle it. – Stolen Lives Book (Chapter 2) An informal treaty was made with the newcomers. This was swiftly followed by colonial officials and more settlers. The new people were no longer “visitors”. Dramatic changes followed for the Indigenous people of the area as the way of colonization had no respect for the Nlaka’pamux, their customs, ways of life, or laws.
Former Chief of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, Patrick Michell, once told me on a phone call that the finding of gold at Nicomen was not a chance find, rather it was in response to visitors asking “do you know where we can find Gold” and once the find was confirmed, an influx of Miners occurred and two were eventually decapitated after they assaulted a young Nlaka’pamux woman, and the bodies of these men catapulted into the river in hopes to send a message to others to not come back this way. Patrick went on to state that by their people doing this, “it must have seeded the water, as more and more people came after that, their numbers multiplying vastly.” Patrick articulated that the “finding of gold” introduced to the Nlaka’pamux a new word, greed, and the rest as they say is history.
Indigenous Cultural Notes: Historically the giant boulder sitting in the middle of the Thompson River at Nicomen, BC had/has spiritual significance to the Secwépemc, Sto:lo, and Nlaka’pamux people of the region. The Secwépemc, Sto:lo, and Nlaka’pamux people would have traveled from far and wide to these sites.
Our understanding of these sites of spiritual significance is limited. Elders have been reluctant to disclose information about these sites, which has much to do with the past attitudes and activities of colonial society. Historically Indigenous beliefs and practices were discouraged and even outlawed. Many important spiritual places have been defaced and destroyed.
Highway and Railway development have had an immense impact on the spiritual sites of Canada’s Indigenous people, including the site of the Frog Rock. In British Columbia alone, approximately 60 percent of these sites have been destroyed, and between 30 to 40 percent of sites have been disturbed, many of which are in the area of the Nlaka’pamux Traditional Territories.
Interesting facts: Other names and spellings of Nicomen in the last 170 years were Nicoamen, Nicomeen, Nicomen, and Nikaomin, before its preferred spelling was eventually defined by the Nicomen people.
A very interesting read is a story called “Memory, Loss and Sorrow….” wrote by former Chief of Kanaka Bar Band, Patrick Michell that can be found online at:
Further reading on the subject can also be found in Dan Marshall’s book Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado”
It was stated in 1867 that “Nicomen on the Thompson River; one day drive from Yale.” By Fredrick Dally. He also referred to the Indigenous of Nicomen as the Nincumshin Tribe and took photographs of them which can be seen in the BC Archives at the Royal BC Museum.
Nicomen House property was purchased by B. Fandrich at the foot of the Nicomen waterfall as a luncheon spot. The Fandrich family owns the white-water rafting resort, Kumsheen Rafting Resort, just before Lytton, BC.
Frog Rock to Lytton, BC is considered a III+ class rapid run with the put in just under the overpass at the confluence of the Nicomen and Thompson Rivers.
Researched and written by Lana Rae Brooks
Phone interviews with former Chief of Kanaka Bar Indian Band, Patrick Michell April 2022 & July 2022
Dally, Frederick 1867 (1838-1914) Thompson R. Indians - Nincumshin Tribe. 1866-1870 Fredrick Dally
Dan Marshall’s book Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado”