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Section title: Nisga'a
Introduction | History | Daily Life | Culture | References


Religion: Traditional Beliefs

  Headdress for Chief of Beaver clan from the Nass River, British Columbia, September 1941

The Nisga'a believed that all living things had souls. In fact, the Nisga'a believed that the world was like a box that contained all of the souls in the world. Even their houses were constructed like boxes and were considered mini universes. For the Nisga'a, it was very important to keep both the body and the soul of a person healthy -- otherwise, he or she might become ill. When someone became sick, that person sent for the Halayt or Medicine Man. The people believed that the Halayt could cure an illness by restoring the soul's balance. By singing special songs and using a rattle, the Halayt put a sick person's soul back in balance. The person would then get well.

Young men participated in a vision quest. This meant going out into the woods by themselves for many days without food and water. The Nisga'a believed that a vision quest put the young men in touch with spirits and removed anything that was impure from their bodies.


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