Ans'pa yaxw (Kispiox)

Monuments and Houses at Ans'pa yaxw (Kispiox), 1910. Photo: Canadian Museum of Civilization (G.T. Emmons).

Ans’pa yaxw or Kispiox, which means 'Hiding Place' in Gitxsan, is located in a central area amongst the other Gitxsan villages on the Skeena River. The village sits where the Skeena River and the Kispiox River meet, and is surrounded by tall mountain ranges to both the east and west, as well as Roucher Déboulé Mountain to the South. Ans’pa yaxw was originally a winter village with eleven long houses situated to face the Skeena River and was home to more than twenty totem poles, some of which date back to as early as 1880, and some as recently as 1995.
 
Traditionally, the three crest groups of Ans’pa yaxw were: Frog/Raven (Lax See’l), Wolf (Lax Gibuu), and Fireweed (Giskaast). Families of the same crest would generally share one of the longhouses, with the highest ranking chief as the head of each house.
 
In the spring, the people of Ans’pa yaxw would hike the so-called ‘grease trails’ to the Nass River to trap oolichan fish. The amount of oolichan grease needed by the people to survive the next year required any member of the family who was able to help carry the grease home to lend a hand. Following this, the families would split off to their fishing camps along the Kispiox River and the Skeena River. Before the arrival of winter, the people hunted land animals to provide meat and pelts. Both hunting areas and fishing stations were divided between crests and houses as was true for most of the Gitxsan.
 
Like many First Nation communities along the Northwest Coast, the people of Ans’pa yaxw experienced a a large loss in population due to the various epidemics brought on by the contact with Europeans in the late 19th century. Today, Ans’pa yaxwis still home to approximately 1,500 people.

Textual Information for this page: Cassidy, 1984; Halpin and Seguin, 1990; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada: www.ainc-inac.gc.ca.