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Our Way

17 March 2010

GTO15The Gitxsan have a matrilineal system with House members tracing lineage through their mother's side.
All Gitxsan belong to a Wilp (House group), which is the basic unit for social, economic and political purposes.
Wilps are made up of a collection of closely related people. Membership in the various Wilps ranges from as little as 20 to as many as 250 people.
There are approximately 64 Wilps (House groups), each with their own territory.
Each Wilp belongs to one of four clans: Lax Gibuu (Wolf), Lax Seel/Ganeda (Frog), Giskaast (Fireweed) and Lax Skiik (Eagle).
Feast hall or Liligit is the forum where business, social and political decisions are legitimized in the traditional system.
The traditional system remains active within the Gitxsan Nation.

Gwalx Ye'insxw

Each wilphl Gitxsan has its treasures - its inheritance - assets that are real and not real, handed down from generation to generation, held in perpetuity, never extinguished. Assets include its wilnaatahl (close relatives), lax yiphl wilp (lands and resources therein), adaawx (ancient oral history), ayook (laws that dictate behavior), limx oo'ii (time immemorial songs that link the wilp to its lax yip), and waaim taa (ancient potlatch seat names). Wilp essence and identity derive from gwalx ye'insxw.

Lax Yip

Each wilphl Gitxsan hold rights and title to, and thus has jurisdiction over, its territory and resources in accordance with ayookim Gitxsan (Gitxsan Law).


Each wilphl Gitxsan has an adaawx (oral history) that recounts its ancestors' creation and migration since the ice age. The adaawx also attaches the wilphl Gitxsan to their lax yip. As well, it includes associated animal crests and symbols, limx oo'y (time immemorial songs), limx sinaahl (breath songs) and limx nox nok (spirit songs).


Each wilphl Gitxsan has the daxgyat (authority and power) to manifest its essence as it sees fit for the good of the Wilp.

Ayookim Gitxsan

Each wilphl Gitxsan and its citizens are required to behave in accordance with Gitxsan Law. The areas covered by Gitxsan law include citizenship, adoption, marriage, property, use of resources, conduct at potlatches, etc.