Gitxsan (Gitksan)

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Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Gitxsan;

Cloudwalker, describing the creation of the rivers, is the second in a series of Northwest Coast legends by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd. Their previous collaboration, Raven Brings the Light (2013), is a national bestseller.

On British Columbia's northwest coast lies the Sacred Headwaters--the source of three of British Columbia's largest salmon-bearing rivers. These rivers are the source of life for all creatures in the area. But what gave life to the rivers themselves?

Astace, a young Gitxsan hunter, is intent on catching a group of swans with his bare hands. He is carried away by the birds' powerful wings and dropped in the clouds. With only a cedar box of water Astace wanders the clouds, growing weaker, stumbling and spilling the contents. When he finally returns to earth he discovers lakes, creeks, and rivers where there were none before. The Gitxsan rejoice at having him home, and name the new river they live alongside Ksien--"juice from the clouds."

Roy Henry Vickers' vibrant artwork, including 18 new prints, accompany this new retelling of an ancient story--readers of all ages will be captivated.

Series Information
This book is part of the Northwest Coast Legends series.

Additional Information
40 pages | 12.00" x 8.25"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork

The Sockeye Mother
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Gitxsan;
To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than just a source of food. Over its life cycle, it nourishes the very land and forests that the Skeena River runs through and where the Gitxsan make their home. The Sockeye Mother explores how the animals, water, soil, and seasons are all intertwined.


There’s a strong undertow today. The turbulent waters caress the backs of the little semelparous life forms emerging from their gravel nests. A small free-swimming fry bears witness to the currents of spring, after spending weeks developing and using up its nutritious yolk sack. It’s one of few remaining fry leaving its long winter’s home to seek out nursing waters.

This is the time of Wihlaxs (the black bear’s walking moon), which is early spring to the Gitxsan peoples of the Pacific Northwest Interior. Change is in the air, the days grow longer, and renewal is the life force that guides the world around the little fry’s waterways. Flora cells are starting to stir, preparing to bud and bring green to the landscape. Stores of food for the people along Xsan (river of mists) is running low, but preparations for the new seasons of fishing and gathering have begun. New snow falls to take away the old snow, which the Gitxsan call dalugwa.

Miso’o, or sockeye, are one of many species of salmon that call Xsan home. Although all species are valued, the Gitxsan prefer the flavour and number of Sockeye that return to their spawning grounds every year. The cultures along Xsan, otherwise known as the Skeena River, flourished and shaped their existence around the life cycles of this keystone species. Little does this small sockeye fry know that its life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.


After a couple of years of “schooling” in the deeper parts of the nursing lake, this sockeye has become a smolt. Its little silvery body begins taking the shape of its blue-backed future self. The smolt is outgrowing the lake, and this signals Lasa ya’a (the spring salmon’s returning moon), so the little sockeye begins its treacherous journey down the Skeena.

As the spring salmons return, the sockeye smolts depart to relieve their urge for saliferous waters. April carries summer innuendos, as warm winds flow through nearly blooming flowers. The scent of pines and cedar waft across moist pillowy moss. The nets and rods of the Gitxsan people scour Xsan in hopes of taking part in the return of ya’a, the spring salmon. Ceremony is held and feasts occur to welcome the runs of salmon who come to replenish the land. It’s not only a time to give thanks, but also a time to send prayer that the salmon will always return, that they will provide nourishment for all that is living within its realm.

The young sockeye has so far avoided predation, dodged the unnaturally changing landscape denuding from the clear-cutting of man, and escaped the hungry hands of ’watxs, the otter. The smolt and her school have made their journey to the Pacific, and north to the ocean waters, where they will continue to feed and grow.


For two years the sockeye mother has been feeding in the ocean waters, while avoiding sharks and killer whales. Through instinct, smell and much that is still not understood, the sockeye mother swims against the powerful currents of Xsan to return to the exact place in the rivers where she was spawned.

It’s now Lasa lik’i’nxsw (the grizzly bear’s moon). August is the time when all the Gitxsan people and grizzly bears pluck hundreds of thousands of sockeye from the Skeena. Many predators such as the grizzly discard most of the carcass. They carry their catch sometimes hundreds of metres into the forest, only to eat the fatty bellies and eggs. The decaying bodies of the salmon leaves nitrogen that nourishes the soil.

Battered and beaten by the journey, she is literally decaying due to lack of food and constant hard work. She finds a male partner who’s dug a nest to her liking. She lays her eggs. She can now die a replenishing death. The dying salmon bodies become fertilizer for all the flora that shape the great lands. Without the sockeye mother, the Gitxsan as they are, would simply not exist.
Authentic Canadian Content

Trudy's Rock Story
Trudy Spiller
Jessika Von Innerebner
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Gitxsan;
When a young girl from the Gitxsan Nation argues with her brother, she remembers the teachings of her grandmother and goes in search of a stone to share her feelings with.

This engaging First Nation’s story teaches children that it is okay to have feelings and shows them how to process and release negative thoughts.

We-gyet Wanders On
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Gitxsan;
The legends collected here are the ancient stories of the people of "Ksan who have lived in northern British Columbia for over six thousand years. We-Gyet is the essence of every man's frailties exaggerated into gentle humour or ribald laughter. His adventures always end in disaster. His blunders and tricks changed the face of the earth, and many of earth's creatures. We-Gyet was a creator - by accident!

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