The month of February (or BUXW-LAKS) marks the beginning of the Nisga’a First Nation’s New Year. And, as with any culture’s New Year, there’s a big celebration planned, both at Vancouver’s PNE and in Gingolx, BC. “Our New Year coincides with a crescent moon and a star,” explained Christine Barton, chairperson for Hobiyee 2015 in the village of Gingolx.
According to research by the Nisga’a government, the Nation’s oral tradition states that “the Simgigat – Nisga’a Chieftains – in past centuries studied the celestial heavens. They were knowledgeable in the behaviors of the stars in proximity to the moon, which forecasted the weather patterns. They studied astrology, not from textbooks but by years of observing the heavens.
The Halayt-Simgigat (or spiritual leader) studied the Buxw-laks moon, the moon of February, and they made note of the different shapes leading up to the full moon. Overtime, they observed that whenever the first crescent moon (thin-shaped) is in the shape of the Hoobix – the bowl of the Nisga’a wooden spoon with the ends pointing upward, this meant abundant resources in the harvesting seasons to follow in K’alii-Aksim Lisims (the Nass Valley).
The oolichans would be plentiful, the salmon, berries and various other resources important to the Nisga’a; all in all, a bountiful year predicted. “During the event, everyone will be able to see the moon shaped like a spoon in the sky with the star above,” said Barton. “That will indicate a bountiful harvest for the season for all the traditional foods we harvest from the land and sea.”
In Vancouver, the Nisga’a of Ts’amiks (Vancouver) hosts the big event each year and always invites dance groups from other Nations to join in the celebration. Vancouver’s Hobiyee is free to attend, and everyone is welcome to come share in the Nisga’a culture. The event takes place at the PNE Forum (2901 Hastings St., Vancouver) from February 6 – 7. >more info
The Nisga’a New Year is also celebrated each year in one of the four respected Nisga’a communities in the beautiful Nass Valley. This year it takes place in Gingolx, BC from February 20 – 21. >more info