Tribal Boundaries in the Nass Watershed

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

Glossary of Terms

House

A house or house group is a matrilineal kin group and the fundamental landowning and sociopolitical unit in Gitksan society. The house always bears the name of its chief. Each house is part of a larger clan group -- Raven (Frog), Fireweed (Killer Whale), Wolf, or Eagle -- that cuts across national boundaries. Houses are related to other houses if they share the same ancient origins and are closely related if they share a common history until relatively recent times.


Adaawk + ̲

The adaawk + ̲ describe the ancient migrations of a house, its acquisition and defence of its territory, and major events in the life of the house, such as natural disasters, epidemics, and war, as well as the arrival of new peoples and events surrounding the establishment of trade alliances and major shifts in power. The adaawk + ̲ also contain timx'oy, ancient songs that refer to events in which the people endured great hardship or loss. The ayuuks, or crests, depicted on poles and on ceremonial regalia also arise out of events in the history of the house as described in the adaawk + ̲. The adaawk + ̲ are perpetuated by the memory training of heirs to chiefly positions and are repeated and witnessed by each generation of chiefs at important feasts, or yukw.


Limx'oy

Limx'oy means "song of ancient times." These powerful songs are both historical and highly emotional, and they often express sadness at the loss of members of a house in a great natural disaster or war or the loss or abandonment of a territory or village. The limx'oy of a house frequently forms part of its adaawk + ̲ referring specifically to places and events related there. These songs also differ from adaawk in that they often retain the original language in which they were created.


Ayuuks

Ayuuks, or crests, are images that refer to specific events in the history of the house. For Northwest Coast peoples, the interpenetration of the material and the spiritual worlds can be seen in historical events of great importance and is manifested in a spirit being that can be perceived and re-created through art. These images, as represented on poles and ceremonial regalia, encapsulate the events detailed in the adaawk + ̲.


Yukw

The yukw, or feast, is a complex institution through which the Northwest Coast peoples formalize much of their sociopolitical and legal affairs. All acquisition and inheritance of territory, the declaration of formal rights of access, and the formation of marriage and trade alliances are validated and witnessed in the feast. The yukw is hosted by a

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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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