Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed

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

6
Witnesses on the Land: The Euro-Canadian Record, 1832-1930

Introduction

This chapter presents evidence on the ownership of territory on the upper Nass River, as observed and written down by European Canadians in the 100 years from 1832 to 1930. The territories involved are those of the Gitanyow, Kuldo, Kisgaga'as, Kispiox, and Nisga'a. For the most part, these travellers were explorers and surveyors sent by commercial interests seeking to exploit the region's various natural resources and travel routes. This work was essentially commercial intelligence gathering. It required recording any information likely to affect the company's fortunes and getting it in writing to head office. Many of the travellers' journals, letters, and reports have been preserved in archives.

The travellers' principal interaction with Aboriginal people was to employ them as guides and packers, although the early explorers were also interested in establishing fur trading alliances. Travellers often recorded the chiefs' names and villages of origin of the guides whom they employed. Many of the travellers were making long journeys across major watersheds, and their accounts of how far over a specific area a guide was prepared to take them provide an accurate, if inadvertent, record of which territories were linked with specific villages, chiefs, or their extended families. In many records, the boundaries of territories are marked by the point where the guide stated that he did not know the country ahead or said that he was afraid to proceed. Only the records that contribute this kind of evidence are reviewed in this chapter.

The early explorers had fairly limited objectives: easy routes for canoes, telegraph lines, pack trains, cattle drives, and railways and the identification of specific mineral and other resources and, as a result, they travelled more in certain areas of the region and less in others. Their observations therefore tend to predominate along the main river valleys and low passes and do not represent an even sampling of Gitksan and Nisga'a territoriality in the Nass watershed. Nevertheless, their records augment the other,

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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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