Importance of Land
We are Nisga’a, people of the Nass River. We have lived here, on British Columbia’s northwest coast, since before recorded time — long enough to see our culture thrive, adapt, and endure. Ours is a world of teeming inlets, dense forests, and sleeping volcanoes. It is a land that is as much a part of us as our own flesh and blood. Flowing through this land and our lives is Lisims, or “the Nass River” as it has become known in modern times. The resources of the Nass Valley have sustained our people for millennia. This bounty allowed us to develop one of the most unique and sophisticated cultures in North America.
It is the system of land ownership which sets the economic rules and is the social foundation for our society. The system clearly laid out the rules of access to the rich economic resources of the Nisga'a lands — who has right to go where — and thereby protected against internal strife. People knew the rules for using an area and proper behaviour on the land; access to particular land areas and its resources weren't a matter of battles, you simply had to ask. This is the kind of control and laws which are, in reality, the essence of government. For the Nisga'a the laws of government and property are integral to the structure of society and family relation.