Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkatla Conservancy was designated as a conservancy on July 14, 2006 following recommendations from the North Coast Land and Resource Management Plan. The conservancy provides safe boat anchorages for boaters travelling along the North Coast and good opportunities for recreation activities and wildlife viewing.
The Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkatla Conservancy lies within the traditional territory of the Gitxaała Nation. Members of the Gitxaała Nation have lived along the north coast of British Columbia for more than 10,000 years. The territory of the Gitxaała Nation extends from Lax Kxeen (Prince Rupert) in the north then south to Princess Royal Island and extends from Hecate Straight in the west then eastward to include the lower reaches of the (Skeena River). Prior to European contact, the Gitxaała people lived in villages located throughout the territory. Seasonal campsites were located in strategic locations to facilitate utilization of natural resources. The central home for the Gitxaała is now the main village on Lax Klan (Dolphin Island).
Gitxaala means “people of the salt,” which is a reference to the ocean-front location of the Gitxaala community on Dolphin Island. Nii Luutiksm means “a special or treasured area.” Gitxaala/Kitkatla Inlet provides a wealth of traditional resources that have for millennia sustained the Gitxaała. Traditional harvesting of seaweed, roe-on-kelp, cockles and salmon are some of the practices that continue to occur within this inlet. The area’s oral history, stone fish-weirs and cache pits within this conservancy represent a history that predates European contact. Protection of cultural uses and values is a dominant feature of this conservancy.
The traditional hereditary system of governance is one of the main structures of Gitxaała society for cultural, economic and political purposes. The Wil ‘na ‘tał (House Unit), led by a Sm gyigyet (House Chief) has been the primary unit of each village. Each House in turn is affiliated with one of the four Clans: G̱anhada (raven), Gisbutwada (blackfish), Lax Sgyiik (eagle) and Lax Gyibuu (wolf). There are currently 26 house groups within the Gitxaała Nation. Each house has the right to use, and the responsibility to manage, specified land within the larger Gitxaała Nation traditional territory. Throughout time the entire territory has been occupied, and resources managed and utilized, according to the laws, traditions and customs of the people. Resources were traded between house groups and with other Tsimshian villages. In recent times the Gitxaała Government has incorporated an elected Band Council to work with the Hereditary House Chiefs in governing the Gitxaała territory.
The Gitxaała Nation continues to respect the allocation of resources, management of the land and cultural use of the land at the House level. Each House leader, Chief, is responsible for management of the land holdings of their House to ensure that the land and natural resources are managed in a manner that will provide for future generations.
Northern portions of the Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkatla Conservancy are of importance and part of the asserted traditional territories of the Coast Tsimshian which includes both the Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams First Nations. Kwil-Mas (North Porcher Island) is an intensive traditional use area for within the traditional territory of the Gitwylgiots Tribe and of importance for the harvest of roe-on-kelp and other sea resources.
Use the below links for information or to contact the Gitxaala First Nation:
The shorelines on the outer coast of the conservancy are steep and rocky, polished by glacial ice and more recent wave action, with limited shelter. Gitxaala Inlet is a small inland sea with strong tidal currents ensuring good nutrient exchange. Gitxaala Inlet has a very high habitat rating for waterfowl. Threatened and endangered bird species recorded in these waters include trumpeter swan (overwintering), Brant, long-tailed duck, western grebe, Pacific loon and great blue heron. A large herring spawn occurs in the inlet. A grey whale rubbing beach is also a special feature within this protected area.
Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkatla Conservancy helps protect the areas biological diversity and natural environments by protecting representative coastal flora and fauna, plant communities and animal species at risk, and special features, particularly lowland coastal muskeg (bogs and fens) and bog forests, limestone features, kelp beds, a highly productive marine ecosystem, the grey whale rubbing beach, a sea lion haul-out, marine invertebrates, and a provincially significant seabird and shorebird feeding and moulting area. Together with nearby Banks Nii Luutiksm and Lax Kul Nii Luutiksm/Bonilla conservancies, Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkatla Conservancy protects over 48,000 ha of terrestrial and marine habitats on the outer coast.
Black bears, wolves, waterfowl, eagles, spawning salmon and the occasional deer can be seen in the conservancy. Humpback whales, killer whales, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and harbour seals can also be seen in the adjacent marine waters.
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