“In the beginning of our history, according to our ancestors, there was no light on earth. There were no inhabitants nor creatures when our Chief of Heavens, K’am Ligihahlhaahl founded the Earth. The history told by our forefathers, and as passed on by them, stated that there were people up above. There were many different races of people there. The world was dark and tehre was not anything to give light. The only light there was like moonlight or semi-darkness. Objects were not very easily identified.
When our Chief of Heavens sent people down to earth they were grouped in four clans. The Laxsgiik (Eagle) clan was one of them, then there was the Laxgibuu (Wolf) clan, the Ganada (Raven) clan and the Gisk’aast (Killerwhale) with the Owl. These were the specified clans. THe crests used were for identification of each family and were recognized as such. Our Chief of Heavens gave our people these crests when they were placed on Lisims, the Naas River.
Now he, the Chief of Heavens, gathered together throngs of people and placed them in various locations other than the Nass River. They were informed that they will not speak the same dialect. There would be a distinct difference according to where these people are placed.
There shall be one tongue spoken on the Naas River, from the headwaters right down to the estuary. Fluent speaking and understanding would be prevalent among them, but not such with the others. “You will not clearly understand other dialects.” is what the Chief of Heavens said when he placed them here on earth. Their destination was unknown and uncertain.
The wahlingigat – the ancient Nisga’a ancestors – did not bring anything with them when they arrived. It was dark on earth then. There were bodies of land , but barely visible. There was no light or water then as we know it now. The land was like mountains where they were…
Nisga’a art is alive and well. Our Elders and master carvers like Norman Tait, Roy McKay, Alver Tait, and many others helped keep these rich cultural traditions alive. Our art form was brought back into the public eye in 1992 with the carving and raising of the Bear’s Den pt’saan (totem pole). This was the first totem pole to be raised in the community of Gitwinksihlkw since the destruction and theft of many pt’saans which stood at all Nisga’a villages prior to the 20th century. In order to raise this pole properly, Nisga’a songs and dances were revived — and have continued ever since.
Nisga’a pt’saans can be found in Vancouver, Ottawa, Chicago, Brussels, and Phoenix. Nisga’a art can be found in major museums, cultural instituitions and private collections worldwide. Many of our younger artists are stepping up and getting noticed as they continue to develop, evolve and respect our traditional art form.”
Source: Text Copyright of the Nisga’a Lisims Government website