ethnic group

poptime=13,000 (est.)
popplace=Canada (British Columbia)
rels=Christianity, other
langs=English, Gitxsanimaax

Gitxsan (also spelled Gitksan) are an indigenous people whose home territory comprises most of the area known as the Skeena Country in English (Git: means "people of" and Xsan: means "the River of Mist"). Gitksan territory encompasses approximately 53,000 square kilometers of land, from the basin of the upper Skeena River from about Kitselas Canyon to the Skeena's headwaters and its surrounding tributaries. [ [ Gitxsan Chiefs - Who We Are - Recent History] ] Part of the Tsimshianic language group, their culture is considered to be part of the civilization of the Pacific Northwest Coast, although their territory lies in the Interior rather than on the Coast. They were at one time also known as the Interior Tsimshian, a term which also included the Nisga'a, the Gitxsan's neighbours to the north. Their neighbours to the west are the Tsimshian (aka the Coast Tsimshian) while to the east the Wet'suwet'en, an Athapaskan people, with whom they have a long and deep relationship and shared political and cultural community.

ociety and Culture

Gitxsan are a matrilineal society that consists of Frog, Eagle, Wolf, and Fireweed Clans. Each clan consists of a series of independent Houses (Wilp), each with their own High Chief, and traditional territories and fishing sites. Marriage within a clan is forbidden.

There are approximately 13,000 worldwide with many living in traditional Gitxsan territory. Many also live elsewhere in British Columbia, in places such as nearby Terrace, Smithers, and down in Vancouver, as well as around the world.

Eighty per cent of the people living on the lands surrounding Kitselas Canyon to the Skeena headwaters are Gitxsan ('People of the River Mist') and archaeological evidence supports a continuous habitation of at least 10,000 years. Their traditional language is called Gitxsanimaax.

Title and Treaties

The aboriginal title rights of the Gitxsan and their neighbours, the Wet'suwet'en, were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 1997 Delgamuukw decision.

To date, a treaty agreement between the Gitxsan Nation and the Federal Government of Canada and Provincial Government of British Columbia has not been reached.


Some of the Gitxsan villages are:
*Old Hazelton (Gitanmaax)
*Gitanyow (formerly Kitwancool)
*Kitsequecla (Gitsegukla)
*Kitwanga (Gitwangak)
*Glen Vowell, British Columbia (Sik-e-Dahk)
*Hagwilget (Hagwilgyet)
*Kispiox (Anspa'yaxw)
*Cedarvale (Minskinish)
*'Ksan (living museum village)

Notable Gitxsan (and people of Gitxsan descent)

* Walter Wilson, Djogislee ~ Past Hereditary Chief (currently Djogislee is Ted Mowatt)
* Gordon Sebastian, Luutkudziiwus ~ Hereditary Chief.
* Simon Gunanoot, long sought-after fugitive later cleared of wrongdoing
* Walter Harris, Hereditary chief and artist/carver
* Nathaniel P. Wilkerson, Artist/carver
* Earl Muldoe (Delgamuukw), Hereditary Chief and Master Carver (Delgamuukw v. British Columbia)
* Victor Mowatt, Hereditary Chief and Master Carver
* Ron Sebastian, Master Carver
* Doreen Jensen, artist and writer


* Adams, John W. (1973) "The Gitksan Potlatch: Population Flux, Resource Ownership and Reciprocity." Toronto: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston of Canada.

* Barbeau, Marius (1928) "The Downfall of Temlaham." Toronto: MacMillan.

* Barbeau, Marius (1929) "Totem Poles of the Gitksan, Upper Skeena River, British Columbia." Ottawa: Canada, Department of Mines.

* Beynon, William (2000) "Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon’s 1945 Field Notebooks." Ed. by Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin. Vancouver: U.B.C. Press.

* Bookbuildes of 'Ksan (1977) "We-Gyet Wanders On: Legends of the Northwest." Saanichton, B.C.: Hancock House Publishers.

* Cove, John J. (1982) "The Gitksan Traditional Concept of Land Ownership." "Anthropologica," vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 3-17.

* Daly, Richard (2005) "Our Box Was Full: An Ethnography for the Delgamuukw Plaintiffs." Vancouver: UBC Press.

* Duff, Wilson (ed.) (1959) "Histories, Territories and Laws of the Kitwancool." Victoria: Royal British Columbia Museum.

* Gibson, John Frederic (1972) "A Small and Charming World." Toronto: Collins Publishers.

* Glavin, Terry (1990) "A Death Feast in Dimlahamid." Vancouver: New Star Books.

* Harris, Christie (1975) "Sky Man on the Totem Pole?" New York: Atheneum.

* Harris, Kenneth B. (1974) "Visitors Who Never Left: The Origin of the People of Damelahamid." Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

* Monet, Don, and Ardythe Wilson (1992) "Colonialism on Trial: Indigenous Land Rights and the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en Sovereignty Case." Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

* Sterritt, Neil J., "et al." (1998) "Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed." Vancouver: U.B.C. Press.

ee also

*Gitxsan Nation
*Gitxsan Language


External links

* [ Gitxsan Nation website]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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