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Sleep in a teepee

Being inept campers we're both enthralled and appalled to be sleeping in a teepee. First of all, if we're going to overnight in what is essentially a cool-shaped tent it might as well be the instantly recognizable Aboriginal teepee.

Being inept campers we're both enthralled and appalled to be sleeping in a teepee.

First of all, if we're going to overnight in what is essentially a cool-shaped tent it might as well be the instantly recognizable Aboriginal teepee.

But our family is not camping people.

So my 11-year-old daughter Grace and I have shown up at Tuckkwiowhum Village beside the thundering Fraser River near Boston Bar with meagre camping equipment.

There's a flimsy sleeping bag Grace uses for sleepovers, a couple of fleecy blankets (one has graphics of puppies on it) and a pair of nearly flat pillows.

My wife, who declined to accompany us in favour of electricity and home comforts, didn't want us taking the good (read: fluffy) pillows camping.

To say teepee camping is rustic is an understatement.

All that is between us and the Fraser Canyon wilderness (black bears and bobcats come to mind) is a flimsy white piece of canvas stretched over leaning sticks in that unmistakable teepee shape.

Inside the five-metre tall, five-metre diameter structure is a patch of lawn where we're expected to turn our measly supplies into bedding.

So we set up and all of a sudden feel special and at one with nature.

When it does come time for lights out (or flashlights out in this case) we have an incredible eight-and-a-half hours of shut eye.

As Tuckkwiowhum general manager Richard McIntrye says: "People love the sleep in the teepee."

The roughing it only goes so far because there are indoor washrooms and hot showers.

And there's dinner — we didn't bring any food with us.

Our camping skills certainly do not extend to preparing a meal over an open fire, or even a barbecue for that matter.

So lucky for us that at Tuckkwiowhum's small on-site restaurant, jack-of-all-trades McIntrye is rustling up an authentic Aboriginal feast for us.

There's salad with local greens; beef barley soup; roasted potatoes, onions and beets grown in soil just up the road; pan-fried Sockeye salmon caught by a member of the Boston Bar First Nation; and a dessert of Saskatoon berries picked on the mountains we can see out the window.

By the way, the main course salmon pairs nicely with a chilled glass of Peller Estates pinot grigio from the Okanagan.

Over dinner McIntrye, who has a Scottish last name, but is from the nearby Lytton First Nation, adds to the information he first started to give us on an earlier tour of the village.

Tuckkwiowhum (pronounced Tuck-we-ohm) means "great berry picking place" in the Nlaka'pamux language.

There's been an Aboriginal settlement on this prime site along the Fraser River for up to 3,000 years and the Boston Bar First Nation wanted to highlight that with a tourist attraction.

The replica village is a step back in time with a centre-piece pithouse, summer lodges, a salmon processing station, drying racks, earth ovens, a smoke house, summer and winter food caches, a sweat lodge, a carving shed and pictographs.

The other half of the site is a new longhouse that doubles as a community hall, and the campground with 16 teepees that sleep four people each.

And this is where the shock comes in.

Teepees are the traditional home of Indian bands on the Prairies where buffalo skins were plentiful to create the unique-shaped all-weather tent.

The Nlaka'pamux people, who are B.C. Interior Salish, favoured the earthen pithouse for winter and cedar-stripped summer lodges that are shaped somewhat like a teepee.

"Teepees are what everyone associates with Aboriginals," said McIntyre, who's also the marketing manager.

"It's what tourists expect, so we put them up and explain later."

Same goes for the totem poles scattered about the property.

They are traditionally affiliated with Coastal Salish, but have popped up at Tuckkwiowhum because it's what tourists are seeking.

Creating such a unique experience means the tourists are coming mostly from the Fraser Valley, Vancouver and Okanagan, but also from Germany and Switzerland, where people are even more fascinated by Aboriginal culture.

Corporate groups are also booking for the brag-worthy overnights in a teepee and teambuilding activities from salmon smoking and talking stick circles to pow wows and relaxation in the sweat house.

Referrals also come through group marketing efforts from other attractions in the Fraser Canyon such as Hell's Gate Airtram, Fraser River Raft Expeditions, Kumsheen Rafting and the Lytton Visitors' Centre.

Tuckkwiowhum Village is located beside the Boston Bar First Nation-owned Anderson Creek RV Park and Campground for regular tent camping, and water and power hook ups for RVs.

Overnight rates for a teepee are $65 and dinner is $13.

Check out or call 604-860-9610.