The cultures of the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum tribes differed little from those of the other Coast Tsimpshian people. Permanent villages of large rectangular longhouses were built from cedar planks at the mouth of the Lakelse River as well as at Kitselas Canyon and Kitsumkalum. Their length of occupancy dates back at least 3500 years. The Lakelse Lake area was extensively used by the Kitselas band and a summer village site was located near the outlet of the lake. Burial sites along the Lakelse River were associated with Killutsal and Klakelse villages near the mouth. (Extracts from the Greater Terrace Official Settlement Plan, 1984.)
The First Nation’s name for Lakelse Lake is Lax Gyels after its freshwater mussels. The Western Pearlshell is found in the Lakelse River. Their average lifespan is 60 – 70 years and the maximum can exceed 100 years.
Cutthroat trout are commonly the host fish required to transport their eggs as part of their reproductive cycle. The species found in the lake is thought to be the Western Floater, about which nothing is known about its biology or host fish. Mussels are one of the most endangered species on earth and because of their sensitive environmental needs they are sentinels of aquatic system health.