Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed

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

5
The Nisga'a Documentary Record

Introduction

Much has been written about the Nisga'a in recent years, most of which deals with efforts to obtain recognition of their land claim, and some of which deals with related public relations. Two extensive ethnographic studies were conducted by Barbeau and Beynon and by Stephen McNeary. The Barbeau and Beynon record is the only study that deals in some depth with Nisga'a territory. The McNeary report and dissertation deal with Nisga'a society and economy and include a discussion on territory and a map of place names.

The Nisga'a struggle has spanned more than a century. In its earliest years, the claim was advanced by Nisga'a men and women who lived within, worked upon, and defended their territory. They knew their house territories (ango'osxw), fishing sites, and berry grounds; they knew the history of their internal and external boundaries; this is the Nisga'a legacy. The documentary record of significance to this study commences with the expedition of Hudson's Bay Company clerk Donald Manson, who travelled by boat part way up the Nass River in 1832 (see Chapter 6). The record includes the writings of missionaries, explorers, and first settlers thereafter, and it acquires a significant Aboriginal voice after the Nisga'a and their neighbours forced government surveyors and commissions to meet with them in the 1880s.

Nisga'a leaders, as did those of the Gitanyow, sought to impress on government representatives the nature of their ownership by describing Nisga'a territoriality. Largely ignored, the Nisga'a redoubled their effort. The minutes and correspondence of commission hearings over a thirty- year period, between 1887 (IRC) and 1915 (MMRC), reflect a pattern: opening comments; description of territories and sites important to the house or village members; reference to Nisga'a law and territoriality; and the caveat that claims are to Nisga'a territory, beyond living and fishing sites.

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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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