The Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams have lived in their territories for more than 10,000 years and their traditional language is Sm’algyax.
One of the most important pre-contact events in Lax Kw’alaams history was a series of wars with invaders from the north, the Tlingit, about 2,000 years ago. During the course of this war, the Nine Tribes consolidated their efforts and became one of the region’s most powerful political, economic and military powers, then proceeded to expand their influence.
By the time of contact, the Nine Tribes’ territories stretched up to the mouth of the Nass River, along the Skeena River to present day Terrace, and along the coast. Their influence over trade expanded deep into the interior following the “Grease Trails”, named after routes used to transport dried and reduced Eulachon, and as far up the Skeena watershed as Kispiox.
The rise of Nine Tribes influence and their dynastic Houses, or societies, was not the result of an abundance of resources but through alliance building, strategic marriage and the deployment of military power.