The Tsimshian Nation


The Tsimshian live along the Skeena and Nass rivers and along the many inlets and islands of the coast. Their winters are mild and their summers cool. The land is heavily forested and receives a lot of rain and snow. Because of the forest conditions it is easier to travel by canoe than to walk a short distance in Tsimshian territory. The eulachon was the most important resource for fat for the Northern nations. Pursuit of eulachon and trade in eulachon fat established the "grease trails". These were the trading routes between the northern villages for their prize oil. Each winter village was entirely independent of the other villages. Each village has four main crests. For Hawilgate the Big Frog and Little Frog are together, then there is the Wolf and Bear, and there is a particular Frog and Raven crest and then the Killerwhale and Fireweed are together. Art that shows these crests remains important to the Tsimshian but contemporary art has expanded. Crest art is for ceremony, and depictions of an animal such as a Frog would require permission from the family with that as their crest. However, by changing the art form, the layout and overall design, a Tsimshian artists can make their art entirely their own.



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