Our Adaawx remind us of our long history and close relationship with the land, waters, and animals we share the territory with. Our Adaawx tell the story of our long migration from Temlaxam to our current territory after the time of the flood. The Adaawx recall how our people built the man-made island on the Kwaal River to defend ourselves against raids. We even have Adaawx demonstrating our ingenuity, such as the story of our chiefs building a submarine out of seal skins. Our Adaawx demonstrate where we came from and what we are capable of.
In the 1860’s, many Gitga’at people moved from our Territory to the new community of Metlakatla, BC. Our people recognized that the world was changing and the new community would provide them with new opportunities. Soon after, our people came back to Gitga’at Territory because William Duncan frowned upon our culture and language. Our people returned with the skills and knowledge they learned in Metlakatla, but preserved our way of life.
In the 1900’s, as more non-Indigenous people made Canada their home, the Canadian Government implemented many legal restrictions on Indians, including making it illegal for us to hold feasts. These policies were designed to destabilized our traditional governance system and we continued to potlatch in secret, keeping our culture alive. We are now free to potlatch, but the continuing strength of our culture is a credit to our people’s resilience.
The 20th Century was a time of change, and our people changed with it. Many went to Prince Rupert, a place with a long history of Gitga’at use and occupancy, and brought their knowledge and skills with them. With our strong culture, they continue to maintain their connection to the territory that they were raised on, speak our language, and pass on the lessons they learned from our ancestors. Gitga’at people everywhere continue to be a fundamental part of the Gitga’at First Nation.