A Trip to the Nisga’a Territory is Like Driving into Another Universe

Nisga’a Lands

COVID-19 Notice: The Nass Valley area is open only for self-guided driving tours at this time. For more information, please visit: http://www.nisgaanation.ca/covid-19

K’alii-Aksim Lisims (the Nass River) flows from glaciers high in sacred mountains through a valley of towering forests connecting the heavens, earth, and sea. This is the homeland of the Nisga’a, who have lived here at least since the end of the last Ice Age, when the ancestors say a great flood changed the world. Today, the Nisga’a greet visitors with a warm Aam Wil
Bakwsim’, which means both “welcome” and “it’s good that you came.”

The Nisga’a Nation includes approximately 8,000 people, many of whom reside in the villages of Gingolx, Laxgalts’ap, Gitwinksihlkw, and Gitlaxt’aamiks—100 km northwest of Terrace via Nisga’a Highway 113. After 113 years of seeking formal recognition of their claim to this place, the Nisga’a secured British Columbia’s first modern treaty. Now, they welcome the world.

Come and wander a primeval landscape—vast lava beds that hold the history of 2,000 lives lost in Canada’s last volcanic eruption. Float down one of North America’s richest salmon rivers. Discover a world-renowned treasury of Northwest Coast Indigenous art and artifacts. On Nisga’a Lands, the majesty of the natural world and the legacy of its people are yours to
experience and enjoy.

 

At Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park, stop in at the Visitor Centre to book a guided tour or pick up a copy of the self-guided Auto Tour of Nisga’a Lands. Download the Tour Map here.

 

Gitlaxt’aamiks is the capital of the Nisga’a Nation and the site of numerous Nisga’a pts’aan (classic Northwest Coast totem poles). In carving sheds throughout Nisga’a Lands, Nisga’a carvers are at work on traditional pts’aan, feast bowls, and canoes. Visit the Gitlaxt’aamiks Interpretive Centre to plan your adventure and learn how to visit Nisga’a Lands respectfully. Book a tour of the soaring Nisga’a Lisims Government building to learn about the struggles and triumph of a self-determined people.

 

Gitwinksihlkw is located along the north bank of the Nass River in one of British Columbia’s most dramatic natural settings. For generations, the village was accessible only by its 122-meter suspension footbridge. Today, a modern vehicle bridge—flanked by four pts’aan—also provides access. Just west of the village, a short boardwalk leads to Hlgu Isgwit Hot Springs, known traditionally as the dwelling place of Sbi Naxnok, a supernatural being whose presence is detected by the smell of sulphur. Today, visitors are welcome to use the change rooms, then bask in two large cedar tubs surrounded by forest. This is a culturally significant heritage site. Enjoy it with care and respect.

Situated on the Nass River estuary, Laxgalts’ap means “village on village” in honour of the previous Nisga’a communities that have occupied this site over millennia. Traditional smokehouses and drying racks tell the tale of an ancient and enduring reliance on the bounty of the sea. The surrounding waters—spawning grounds of five Pacific salmon species—make this
is a world-class fishing destination. Local guide/outfitters know where and when the salmon run.

Laxgalts’ap is also the location of Hli Goothl Wilp-Adokshl Nisga’a, the Nisga’a Museum, an exceptional collection of Nisga’a art and artifacts. With a design inspired by traditional Nisga’a longhouses, feast dishes, and canoes, the museum contains exquisitely carved masks, bentwood boxes, headdresses, and regalia from generations past. A permanent home for the
preservation and celebration of all that is Nisga’a, the museum is also a centre of research, learning, and cultural tourism in northwest British Columbia.

The fishing village of Gingolx, once known as the Place of Skulls to ward off intruders, is now renowned for its golden hospitality and seafood, especially crab and halibut. Stroll the Sea Walk, rent or launch your own kayak, take a guided fishing, cultural, or wildlife-viewing tour. Taste the bounty of the sea at U See Food U Eat It restaurant.

February is a special time in Nisga’a Lands, when the crescent moon takes the shape of a Nisga’a wooden spoon. This is Hobiyee—the Nisga’a New Year. All are welcome to join in the celebrations.

To learn more, book tours and accommodation, visit Nisga’a Tourism.