All Nisga’a are members of one of four pdeek, a very large “family” whose common ancestors lived in the time before memory. Membership in a pdeek is matrilineal, (passed on through the maternal parent, our Mothers). Each pdeek has two major crests:
Gisk’aast: Killer Whale/Owl
Each pdeek owns a distinct crest because each has different adaawak (traditional histories). An adaawak of a specific Ganada family, for example, tells how some ancestors of this pdeek met a supernatural Raven, where as another Ganada family met a supernatural Frog. Because of these events, members of each of the different Ganada pdeek have the right to bare the crest that represents the adaawak of their family.