Ways of Life

Origins of the Nisg̱a’a People

In the beginning, the Chief of Heavens created the Earth. There was no light, only a semi-darkness that was like moonlight. The land was very mountainous and barely visible, and there were no people or animals.

Up above in the world of the Chief of Heavens, called Lax̱ha, there were people representing many different races. The Chief of Heavens sent groups of these people down to earth, and he divided them into four clans. They were the Eagle clan, the Raven clan, the Wolf clan, and the Killer Whale with the Owl. These crests were used to identify each family that was placed on the shores of Lisims, the Nass River. He told them that they would speak one language, from the estuary all the way to the headwaters of Lisims.

The Chief of Heavens also placed other groups of people in locations other than Lisims. He gave them different dialects from the ancestors of the Nisg̱a’a people.

The Nisg̱a’a ancestors of Lisims were called the w̓ahlingigat, and the name of their first village was Lax̱-Gwinsḵ’eex̱kw, “Village in darkness”. They built Lax̱- Gwinsḵ’eex̱kw on an island on Lisims near Gitlax̱t’aamiks.

There were four Houses, according to the four crests, and the people intermarried with others of different houses. There were four women: Ksim G̱anada (Raven), Ksim Lax̱sgiik (Eagle), Ksim Lax̱gibuu (Wolf), and Ksim N̓eeḵhl, or Ksim Gisḵ’ aast (Killer Whale). When children were born, they adopted the crest of their mother, not their father.

With time, more villages were built along Lisims, and the clans and the nation grew. But life was difficult, as they still lived in semi-darkness. There would be no real daylight until the coming of Tx̱eemsim.