Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed

By Neil J. Sterritt; Susan Marsden et al. | Go to book overview

2
The Adaawḵ Record and Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed

Introduction

In their adaawḵ, Gitksan houses tell the history of their ancestors beginning in time immemorial and continuing through the ages to the present. For generations these histories have been memorized and passed on by succeeding chiefs, and in each generation they have been retold by these chiefs and witnessed by others in the public forum of the feast.

Several historical periods emerge from the collective history of the Northwest Coast nations. In the earliest period, the adaawḵ describe the migration of a number of different peoples into unoccupied lands. In their explorations over great distances, they discovered a treeless and unstable landscape where they experienced flooding, earthquakes, and volcanoes. As those who survived moved through coastal and interior regions, they eventually reached stable areas where they established their early villages. Some remained in these villages, while others continued to explore and later settled elsewhere. Everywhere they settled, they "walked the land" and established their territories. These adaawḵ probably date to the geological upheaval of the early postglacial period between 12000 BP on the coast and 9000 BP in the interior. 1

According to the adaawḵ, the northern reaches of the Nass were first settled by Raven and Wolf Clan peoples. The People of the Raven migrated southward through deglaciated northern areas and arrived at the headwaters of the Nass, Skeena, and Stikine Rivers. Some settled in this region, while others established themselves in ice-free areas along these river valleys and on the coast. In the same period, a group of coastal Wolf Clan people moved up the Skeena River and settled in a number of regions as far north as the Stikine and Yukon Rivers, where they were later joined by other Wolf Clan peoples from the north.

As these peoples formed early communities, they established their territories in what was still a changing landscape. Little is known about the geography of the interior during the first 5,000 years after deglaciation,

-15-

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Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1- Introduction 3
  • 2- The Adaawḵ Record and Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed 15
  • Introduction 15
  • Conclusion 57
  • 3- The Gitksan Documentary Record: Gitanyow 59
  • 4- The Gitksan Documentary Record: Kuldo, Kisgaga'As, and Kispiox 98
  • Introduction 98
  • Conclusion 130
  • 5- The Nisga'A Documentary Record 132
  • Introduction 132
  • Conclusion 192
  • 6- Witnesses on the Land: The Euro-Canadian Record, 1832-1930 194
  • Introduction 194
  • Conclusion 240
  • 7- Conclusion 243
  • 8- Epilogue 251
  • Appendices 253
  • Notes 272
  • Glossary of Terms 293
  • Glossary of Place Names 295
  • Glossary of Chiefs' Names 312
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 319
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