Gitsegukla

Gitsegukla is a Gitxsan speaking village located in the Skeena River Valley, an area that is surrounded by mountains. The name Gitsegukla means 'People of Segukla'. Segukla or 'sharp-pointed' being the name of a nearby mountain.

This 1880 drawing by H.K. Woods depicts the original (lower) village with three poles (one partially drawn in front of first house on left) and salmon caches in background.

The original site of the village was located on the bank of the Skeena River at the base of the ridge where the modern cemetery is found. In 1872, prospectors en route to the Omineca gold rush started a fire, which destroyed the entire village. As an outcome, there was a protest by the people in the village that resulted in an expeditionary military force being sent to put an end to the rebellion.

The second location of the village was built further up the river, directly below what is now the modern village. This second village consisted of long houses by the river with their doors facing the river, and totems in front of the houses. The houses originally were community houses that had up to 50 people in them but, by 1884, modern nuclear family houses were being built.

In 1914, the river flooded and destroyed some of the village’s houses and totem poles. The flood convinced some people to move to the top of the ridge where the community is located today. In 1936, the river flooded once again completely destroying the lower village and its poles. At that time, the remaining lower village relocated to the upper village. The few remaining poles beside the river were either left on the ground, moved to the upper village or were replicated.

Textual information for this page: Adawkhl Gitsegukla, 1979.

Special thanks to Niisnoolh (Ray Jones) hereditary chief of the Fireweed Clan at Gitsegukla. Ray was instrumental in helping the Centre provide information for each of the monuments and their locaiton.