Canadian Geographic
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Early trade networks

Coast Tsimshian

The Coast Tsimshian who wintered in Prince Rupert harbour were well located to exploit a variety of resources and to participate in coastal and interior trades. In the early spring they migrated in kinship groups to the Nass River to trade and fish for eulachon. From there many people went to the outer islands to hunt sea mammals and gather shellfish. In summer they moved to villages and campsites along the lower Skeena where they fished for salmon and gathered berries. In the late fall, their canoes laden with dried salmon and trade goods, they returned to the winter villages.

Kinship groups from the same village owned contiguous territories for fishing, hunting, and gathering. At elaborate potlaches the giving of luxury goods validated status and title. The system was financed by the corporate (kinship-group) production for surplus goods that could be exchanged or traded over long distances. Raiding for property and slaves was also common.

Click for information on the seasonal activities of the Tsimshian.


On the next page:

Obsidian Trade

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Quiz :

What fish did the Coast Tsimshian fish on the Skeena River during the summer?