Gitanyow (Kitwankul)

Photo by C.M. Barbeau, 1924.

The village of Gitanyow is located in Northwestern British Columbia along the Kitwanga River just south of Kitwancool Lake. The village was formerly know as Kitwancool, but changed it’s name in the early 1980’s.

The Gitanyow people are usually classified linguistically as part of the Gitxsan speaking peoples, but they consider themselves to be a completely independent and autonomous group. The name Gitanyow means People of Many Numbers and their traditional territory covers roughly 17,000 square kilometers of Northwestern British Columbia.

The Gitanyow had a single winter village located on the oolichan oil trade route to the Nass River, which was a unique position as other Gitxsan villages were located closer to the Skeena River. The Gitanyow also maintained hunting territories in the Skeena and Nass drainages.

There are eight houses or Wilps as well as eight hereditary Chiefs which trace their ancestry to the Wolf (Lax Gibuu) and Frog (Ganeda) phratries (as well as a small presence of Fireweed). They are governed by a traditional matriarchal system, and maintain Gitanyow laws and traditions.

Textual Information for this page: Duff, 1959; Halpin and Seguin, 1990; Office of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, 2002.