Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park

Feature Type:Provincial Park - Legally defined land area, under provincial jurisdiction, for camping, outdoor recreation, and preservation of wildlife.
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Surrounding Ksi Sii Aks (Tseax River), Crater Creek and adjacent upland, E side of Nass River, Cassiar Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 55°07'00''N, 128°54'00''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 103P/2
Related Maps: 103P/2

Origin Notes and History:

Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park (a.k.a. Anhluut'ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga'asanskwhl Nisga'a) was established by Order in Council 665, 29 April 1992. Area expanded by inclusion of the former Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Recreation Area per Bill 53: Park Amendment Act 1995, 13 July 1995, the whole now containing 17,893 ha. more or less. Re-iterated in Nisga'a Treaty Appendix G-1, effective 11 May 2000, the whole still containing 17,893 ha.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"The park commemorates the destruction of two Nisga'a villages and the deaths of more than 2,000 Nisga'a ancestors during a volcanic eruption c1750; the park protects the cultural heritage of the Nisga'a and the natural history of one of British Columbia's most recent lava flows." (Park pamphlet)

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Niska [sic] - the dialectic name for one of the three Chimmesyan divisions, the other two being the Kitksan and the Tsimshian. In tradition, art, and manner of living these three divisions are closely allied, with such geographic differences as would naturally occur. In language less than one-third of the vocabulary is common to all, a like proportion varies in accent, while the remainder is different and more local in character. The territory of the Niska includes Observatory Inlet, Nass Bay, and the drainage basin of Nass River and its tributaries, but those northern sources that interlock with the Iskut and the Stikine Rivers are claimed also by the Tahltan, and over this contention have occurred many wars that have always kept these people apart. The Niska villages have always been on the main river and show evidence of considerable size.... The Niska were divided geographically into the Kitkahteen ('people of the lower valley') including those below the canyon, and the Kitanweliks ('people of the upper river'). Tradition tells that long ago when the principle village was [on the south side of the lower Nass River], some little boyt were amusing themselves by catching salmon, cutting slits in their backs in which they inserted flat stones and then letting them go (playing they were whales). This so incensed the guardian spirit that, rising from the mountain to the southward enveloped in a wide spreading black clould that changed day into night, with eyes of flame and voice of thunder, he rolled down the mountainside as a river of fire and swept the village away. The people fled across the river and took refuge in the hills until quiet was restored, when they divided, some settling at Kitlakdamix while the others founded Kitwinshilk on the rocks overlooking the rapids, and were ever afterward known by the name of their village as 'the people among the lizards'." [spelling variations in old maps & reports: Niska, Nishgar, Nishka, Nisk'a, Nis-kah, also Nass River Indians; the preferred modern spelling is Nisga'a.]

Source: Handbook of Indians of Canada, published as an Appendix to the 10th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 1912.

"The history of the region is tied to legends handed down from past generations. The Nisga'a house system is composed of four main families: Wolf, Raven, Killer Whale, and Eagle. Each family owns stories and passes them on to the next generation. One of the most well known stories is about the genesis of the volcano. Legend has it that children had shown disrespect to the life-giving salmon by putting stones and burning sticks into their backs and watching them swim. The elders warned the children repeatedly to stop but they did not listen. Soon the ground began to rumble. The volcano and the lava flow then covered the valley bottom, redirected the mighty Nass River and destroyed two villages. This resulted in 2000 Nisga'a people perishing."
"As the lava spilled from the crater an estimated 250 years ago, it followed a creek bed downslope to Lava Lake and down the Tseax Valley to the Nass River. The lava travelled at different speeds depending on the steepness of the slope [leaving] tree casts, lava tubes, and Pahoehoe, AA and Blocky lava types." (see BC Parks' website)

Source: included with note