Nisga'a Annual Cycle
Nisga'a people have occupied villages along Lisims (the Nass River) since time before our ancestors' memory. The many villages, prior to the imposition of reserves under the federal Indian Act, were occupied seasonally with respect to the place where traditional harvesting was accessed and prepared every year. During the winter months our Nisga'a people maintained their winter villages, accessing small and large game animals, while many Wilp (families) carried out their responsibilities and work hosting a Yukw (feast).
As winter comes to a close, the Nisga'a move down river to Fishery Bay to prepare the equipment, supplies and buildings for the oolichan harvest. When the oolichan season has passed, we move to our seasonal fishing grounds in the Spring and early Summer. The fishing grounds selected were determined by the Sim'oogit ii w'ahlingigat (elders) in the wilp, who were considered "experts" at knowing where the best place to set up fish camps would be, noting past practice and the change in the meandering river. All of the fishing village sites are used every year. In the Fall, after fish and other winter supplies were prepared, preserved and stored for the sustanance of the Nisga'a, through the long cold winter — groups of hunters would then move on to their traditional hunting grounds or their Winter village.
This tradition and cycle of accessing the main harvest resources, in addition to other resources accessed at each of the specific seasonal and geographical ecosystems, continues today in observing the time of year and practice of accessing the resources, while maintaining the environment and the sustainability of the resources for future generations.