Ways of Life

Clan Systems

The Nisg̱a’a people are an indigenous First Nation with common language and culture in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. Within the nation, the Nisg̱a’a people are divided into four tribes: Eagle, Wolf, Killer Whale, and Raven.

At birth, each Nisg̱a’a person automatically becomes a member of their mother’s tribe. This is known as a matrilineal system. If your mother is a Wolf, then you are also a Wolf. Since Nisg̱a’a men and women are not permitted to marry people from their own tribe, the children of a Nisg̱a’a father belong to a different tribe than him.

Tribes are further divided into Houses. A House is an extended family based on one of the chiefs of that tribe. For example, within the Wolf tribe, there are several chiefs of different rank. The House of Duuḵ’ includes those Wolves who are related to chief Duuḵ’ through their mother.

Sometimes different Houses have common ancestors, so they are grouped together as clans. For example, the Wolf tribe in the village of Gitlax̱t’aamiks had many Houses, they were grouped into two Wolf clans: the Gitḵ’ansnaat and the Gitwiln̓aak'il̓.