The cultural and traditional way of life has been practiced by the Nisga'a
since time immemorial. We have attained and learned the behavior
living patterns from our forefathers. The Nisga'a have maintained
traditional ways of life, though we were continuously subject to gradual
modifications by our succeeding generations.
The culture and tradition of the Nisga'a people is prominent
in the Nass Valley. The Nisga'a have always been great at preserving
in every season of the year. In the fall, Git Gingolx go out to the digging
grounds to dig for cockles and clams.
Freshly dug cockles
A crew of four to five guys go out on a gillnetter for one to two weeks
to dig on their ango'oskw (traditional hunting and gathering grounds).
Digging tides are 0 tides which means that the tide is zero feet and they
usually occur in October, November, December, and January.
After the Nisga'a New Year in February (Hobiyee), the people
work together for the ooilcan harvest and sea-lion hunts. In
the oolican season there is the first catch and the second catch. The
first catch is usually to test and determine if the oolicans are ready
for harvest. If they are too small in size, the people wait for the second
run, leaving the first run to spawn and thrive.
Oolichan fishing at Fishery Bay - Nass River
The village smoke-houses have to be prepared also. The rafters and the
oolican sticks have to be washed and cleaned. Then, wood for smoking or curing is collected for the smoke-houses. Usually the
preference for smoke-house wood is birch wood or cottonwood. While the
people in the villages are doing their work of smoking oolicans and sea-lion
meat, there are people at Grease camps located at Fishery Bay. It is here that they prepare the Oolican grease. The
preparation of oolican grease is a very strenuous and industrious job
that can take
up to six weeks to be prepared right.
Arbutus Stewart hanging up Oolichan for smoking