Our Story

Gitxaała Nation

About Our Territory

Gitxaała Territory stretches from what is now referred to as Prince Rupert Harbour to Aristazabel Island and includes Banks Island, McCauley Island, Pitt Island, the western side of Campania Island, portions of the mainland adjacent to Grenville Channel, Red Bluff and the surrounding waterways.

We are the original coastal people of the northwest with our village of Lax Klan being the oldest continually inhabited village on the Pacific Northwest coast. We celebrate our relationships with family and friends in neighbouring and distant communities, but we emphasize our distinctiveness from our Tsimshian (‘People of the Skeena’) neighbors, as others know us as the people of the saltwater – Git Lax M’oon. Throughout time, the entirety of our territory has been occupied. Our resources managed and utilized according to our ayaawx (laws) and gugwilx’ya’ansk (inheritance of territory).

We are Ganhada (Raven), Gisbuutwada (Blackfish), Lax Gyibuu (Wolf) and Lax Sgyiik (Eagle).

Four Wil’naat’ał (Clans) with Waap (Houses) led by our Sm’gyigyet (Hereditary Leaders) who manage and protect their łaxyuulp (territory) and resources according to their ayaawx (law). In the past, each of our tribes had their own village sites and adaawx (stories) connected to their łaxyuulp (territory). Our connection to our places in our łaxyuulp (territories) were, and remain, so significant because they carry our adaawx (stories), our liimi (songs), and even the names of Sm’gyigyet (Hereditary Leaders).

We moved between our villages, fishing camps, and harvesting areas – which were often shared with each other. While our villages housed our ‘homes’, our camps – or our n’dzox -were our homes away from home. Whether preparing to go up the Nass River for ‘wah (oolichan), spending months following the cycles of wineeyakm (our traditional foods) or simply staying overnight, our galdoo (where you camp) connected us to our łaxyuulp (territories) as much as our people, foods and homes did – and still do to this day. Gitxaała people have always harvested for trade and sale with our trade networks stretching throughout the coast and inland along the Skeena. Our existence has always depended on the wealth and abundance of our łaxyuulp (territories) and resources. Our Sm’gyigyet (Hereditary Leaders) and Sigidmna’ax (Matriarchs) have sustainably managed the resources on our łaxyuulp (territory) since time immemorial and have never ceded this right. Theirs is a responsibility to łaxyuulp (territory) to ensure the land and resources will provide for ga łuk dantgm (our future generations).

– Ryan O’Toole, Gitxaała Nation Community Feasibility Study Part One