Ayaawx (Ts'msyen ancestral law): The power of transformation




Vickers, Patricia June

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The Ayaawx is the ancient law of Ts’msyen people situated on the northwest coast of British Columbia. With principles for spiritual, social, political and economic relations, the Ayaawx has been taught both directly and indirectly in daily and ceremonial living for centuries. The Ayaawx holds transformational change as a natural event in human relationships with each other, the land, and the supernatural world. Yet the Ayaawx is not studied in depth in post secondary institutions in British Columbia or defined as a resource for program development by governments or a reliable resource by us as Ts’msyen people. Statistical data on Indigenous Canadians is prolific indicating the severity of suffering caused by social and legalized oppression. Indigenous peoples of Canada have received health, social, psychological, psychiatric and educational services from the federal and provincial governments for over one hundred years and yet the suffering remains inordinately high. For example, less than sixty years ago Sm’algyax was spoken by children, adolescents, adults and elders in Ts’msyen communities and individuals and House Groups knew the protocol for resolving conflicts in families and the community. The organization and interpretation of this dissertation has been structured here in the format of a contemporary Adaawx, (sacred story), with Sm’algyax, (Ts’msyen language) as the main reference for meaning when discussing the impact of cultural oppression and in identifying the main principles of the Ayaawx that will assist individuals, families and communities in transforming suffering. Transformation is a common act in Adaawx, art objects, dramatizations and song. Woven throughout Adaawx, the principles of the Ayaawx are a vital resource not only to transform suffering, but it is also a guide to direct all human beings into a progressive future.



Indigenous, Aboriginal, Ancestral Law, Ancestral Principles, Tsimshian Law, Northwest Coast Indigenous, British Columbia