Kitkatla, Dolphin Island

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Kitkatla, Dolphin Island

by | Nov 3, 2019

Kitkatla is a small Tsimshian village on the north coast of Dolphin Island approximately 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It is also called Lach Klan or Laxklan by the Tsimshian. The village is home to the Gitxaała First Nations government and is only accessible by floatplane or by boat. Dolphin Island is 2.5 miles (4 km) off the south coast of Porcher Island.

The Gitxaala is one of the 14 bands of the Tsimshian nation in British Columbia. They were historically also called the Sebassa tribe for their paramount chief Ts’ibasaa. The name Gitxaala is derived from the Tsimshian name Gitkxaała, from git- (people of) and kxaała (open sea), since they are the farthest from the mainland of the Tsimshian tribes. Another name for themselves is Git lax m’oon (people of the saltwater) in recognition of the islands and inlets they historically lived on.

The Gitxaala is reputed to be the first Tsimshians to formally encounter Europeans. Stories recording this encounter tell of the acquisition of the hereditary name He’l by the Gispwudwada (the Blackfish or Killerwhale clan) from an English ship captain named Hale. Subsequent to this encounter, the Gitxaala were the first Tsimshian to use guns. In 1916, a large amount of information on the hereditary names, territories, and oral traditions of the Kitkatla people was collected by William Beynon, a Tsimshian chief, and translator in the employ of the ethnologist Marius Barbeau. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kitkatla here:

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