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Gitxsan Nation, British Columbia (Canada)

Native American

Last modified: 2019-11-24 by rick wyatt
Keywords: gitxsan nation | british columbia | native american |
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[Gitxsan Nation, British Columbia flag] image located by Valentin Poposki, 7 November 2019


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The Flag

There are approximately 13,000 members of the Gitxsan nation worldwide, with about 70% living on the traditional territories. The population is young compared to provincial and Canadian statistics with over 70% under the age of 30. Most live in five Gitxsan villages (Gitwangak, Gitsegukla, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell, Kispiox) and two provincial municipalities (Hazelton, New Hazelton). The Gitxsan people make up about 80% of the total population living on the territories. The remaining population is mostly of European descent.

Settlement of the area by non-Gitxsan began around the turn of the century. Gitxsan people have lived on the territory since creation. Western archaeological evidence has so far supported more than 10,000 years of occupation by the Gitxsan. The English translation of the Gitxsan is "People of the River of Mist".

Clans and Wilps

For the Gitxsan people, the Wilp and clan are the two most important units of society. A person is born into a particular Wilp and clan. The Gitxsan, like many other small societies, are well organized through kinship lines. Kinship organizes most aspects of life including property ownership, economic activity, residence patterns, education, marriage, inheritance, political activity and most social relationships. All of these spheres of existence are determined by one's kin group membership. The basic kinship unit is the Wilp or House. The Wilp is composed of a group of matrilinearly-related kin. In some Wilps the biological relationships between all Wilp members is known. In other Wilps there may be two to six lineages between whom the relationship is no longer remembered. This is sometimes expressed as "maybe our grandmothers were sisters."

There are about 45 to 65 Wilps, each ranging from 20 to 250 members and belonging to one of the four clans: Lax Gibuu, Lax Skiik, Lax Seel/Ganeda, Giskaast (Wolf , Eagle, Frog, Fireweed). The Wilp is a political unit with a considerable degree of autonomy. Each Wilp controls most of its own affairs. However, the chief's power never becomes dictatorial. In fact, as expressed in the adaawk, dictatorial power is a matter of serious concern.

Recocnized Tribes belonging to the Gitxsan Nation
-Gitanmaax Band
-Gitanyou Band
-Gitsegukla Indian Band
-Gitwangak Indian Band
-Glen Vowell Indian Band
-Kispiox Band Council

The flag of the Nation is white with Nation's logo on it.
Valentin Poposki, 7 November 2019