The Gitga'at are members of the Tsimshian
cultural group which is a matrilineal
society. Clans affiliation, crests, names,
and resource gathering areas are inherited
from the mother's side of the family.
Gitga’at society is organized by
Waap (House Group). A Waap would live
together in a longhouse (made out of cedar).
Each Waap has a sm’oygit (Chief)
as well as ownership and stewardship responsibilities
over particular lands, waters and resources.
All members of a Waap belong to the same
Pte'ex (Clan), which is much like a large
extended family. There are four clans
in Tsimshian society: Gispudwada (Blackfish
or Killerwhale), Laxsgiik (Eagle) Ganhada
(Raven) and Laxgibuu (Wolf).
At the time of European contact, the
Gitga'at had 13 or more Waap: 2 Gispudwada,
2 Laxsgiik, 6 Ganhada, and 3 Laxgibuu.
Today the community has Gispudwada, Laxsgiik
and Ganhada House Groups. There are no
longer any Laxgibuu houses. There are
some Laxgibuu members who have become
a part of the community through marriage.
Sm'oygit Wahmodmx is the hereditary chief
of the Gitga'at. The House of Wahmodmx
belongs to the Gispudwada clan.
Gitga'at means "People of the Cane."
The name refers to an adawx (sacred history)
which describes how the chief established
a new settlement at the place where two
rivers met. This is today's Lax Galtsap
(Old Town), which was the site of the
Gitga'at winter village at the time of
European contact. It is also the location
of the one of the world's largest collection
The adawx of some House Groups trace
their origins to the local area. Others
tell of migrations into the Territory.
The history of the House of Wahmodmx,
the hereditary chief of the Gitga'at,
is part of a great migration down the
Skeena River from the land of Temlaham.
Thus this house is related to some other
Gispudwada houses who share the same history.
These adawx are passed down through House
Groups in accordance with the laws of