Investing with Namgis First Nation



Region:  Vancouver Island and Coast

Nation:  Kwakwaka'wakw

A long time ago, when the world was still young, at a time when many spirit beings wandered the world, a man named Gwa'nalalis and his family settled at a place called Xwalkw. After a time a supernatural being named Kaniki'lakw, came to Gwa'nalalis and asked him,

"Do you want to be a mountain"? Gwa'nalalis answered, "No, for mountains have slides and then crumble away for as long as the days dawn in the world". He was then asked if he wanted to be a cedar tree and Gwa'nalalis again answed "No, for cedar trees when struck by lightning, split and fall, then they rot for as long as the days dawn in the world". Gwa'nalalis was then asked, "Do you want to be a large boulder"? He answered, "No, for I may crack and then crumble away for as long as the days dawn in the world". Finally, Gwa'nalalis was asked, "Do you want to become a river"? He answered, "Yes, let me become a river that I may flow for as long as the days dawn in the world". So the supernatural being, Kaniki'lakw, put his hand on Gwa'nalalis forehead and pushed him down saying, "There you will be a river for as long as the days dawn in the world, and you will be full of salmon so that your descendants may never starve." The river is still known as Gwa'ni. It is the river of the 'Namgis. It was at this river, Gwa'ni, that Captain George Vancouver encountered the 'Namgis people in 1792. As a result of European contact the river came to bear the name of the 'Namgis, although it was translated as the Nimpkish River. At the time of contact with Captain Vancouver, the 'Namgis were already familiar with European trade goods, largely as a result of their established trade with their neighbors, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, on the west coast of Northern Vancouver Island. The 'Namgis were one Nation among many other Kwakwaka'wakw Nations who, it has been estimated, had a combined population of eight to ten thousand people.

The villages of the 'Namgis were organized into extended family units ('na'mima) each sharing a single Big House. The ceremonies and rituals of the Potlatch regulated all aspects of 'Namgis social life. Central to that social life was a reverence for the natural world. For example, when taking and using anything of the natural world the 'Namgis always thanked the spirits inhabiting those things for giving themselves up for use by the 'Namgis.


Latitude: 50° 35' 40".559 N
Longitude: 126° 56' 02".702 S

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