Ways of Life

Migrations

The people, families and clans who form the Nisg̱a’a nation represent a blending of many groups of people who migrated to the Nass River from other areas of the North Pacific Coast. These migrations are difficult to date, due to the fact that they happened in the time before written history, but the oral stories or “adaawaḵ” of each clan and tribe tell the important details of each migration.

The adaawaḵ records the adventures that were experienced during each migratory journey, as well as many of the relationships between family members and clans. Many of the migration adventures are symbolized in the crests and figures that appear on the totem poles of the Nisg̱a’a.

Why these migrations? Since time before memory, the Nass River was a destination for groups of people who were seeking good lands with good hunting and fishing. The Nass valley and its surrounding coastal waters rewarded those who made the often treacherous journey to get there, which often included conflict and warfare with neighbouring tribes.