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Niska Indians of Canada

Niska. Significance unknown. Phonetically spelled Nisk?aŽ. Also called:

Nass River Indians, from their habitat.

Connections. The Niska were one of the three tribes or tribal groups constituting the Chimmesyan linguistic family.

Location. On Nass River and the neighboring coast. (See also Alaska.)

Subdivisions and Villages

There were four divisions or tribes which, including the village or villages of each, are as follows:

Kithateh or Gitrhatin, including the villages of Kincolith, on Nass Inlet, and Lakkulzap or Greenville.
Kitgigenik or Gitwinksilk, including the village of Lahanla or Lakungida, near the mouth of Nass River.
Kitwinshilk, including the village of Lahulyans or Underleaf.
Kitanwilksh, including the village of Kitlakdamik or Gitlarhdamks, above the canyon of Nass River, and Aiyansh, on the lower course of Nass River.

The following names of villages are also given by various writers:

Kitaix, near the mouth of Nass River.
Gwinwah, on Nass River.
Kisthemuwelgit or Willshilhunhtumwillwillgit, on the north side of Nass River near its mouth.
Qunahhair, on the south bank of Nass River just below the canyon.
Sheaksh, on the south bank of Nass River, 5 miles above the canyon.
Kitahon, Kitangata, Kitlakaous, and Andeguale may be additional towns or synonymous names for some of the
Emmons (in Hodge, 1910) divides the Niska into the Kitkahteen (Kithatch), including those below the canyon, and the Kitanweliks (Kitanwilksh), those above the canyon.

History. The history of the Niska was almost the same as that of the Tsimshian (q. v.), though the resort of so many tribes to Nass River during the eulachon run may have given them a more cosmopolitan character than the other Chimmesyans.

Population. (See Tsimshian.) In 1902 the population of the Niska towns was given as 842, in 1906 as 814.

Connection in which they have become noted. Besides the connections mentioned in treating of the Taimshian, the Niska were noteworthy from the fact that the territory they occupied included Nass Inlet, which was a place of resort for tribes from all sections during the eulachon season, and that the myths of many of these tribes center around it. Perhaps it was owing to this circumstance that the Nass River seems to have been the center of the northwest cultural area Nooksak. A tribe, living mainly in the State of Washington, which is said to have branched off from the Squawmish of British Columbia. (See Washington.)

The Indian Tribes of North of America, by John Swanton, 1953

Canadian Indians

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