Sm’algyax, Kitsumkalum’s true language

Sm’algyax is a dialect of the Tsimshian language spoken in northwestern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska.

The language of the people of Kitsumkalum is Sm’algyax. To put this language into a regional context, it it similar to the language of the Nisga’a and Gitksan people but very different from the language of the Haisla people in Kitamaat and the Haida people. When many newcomers came to the Skeena in the 19th century speaking English, Gaelic, and French as their mother tounges, Tsimshian people needed language training to communicate with them.

Language expertise was a skill taught in the past. Many Tsimshian received language training so they could travel widely amoung the nations of the northwest or learned foreign languages as a result of contact with people from other nations. Tsimshian oral histories are filled with stories of visits to other First Nations in what is now British Columbia, and when Europeans arrived Tsimshian travel was extended immediately to include more distant locations such as Hawaii, Asia, Europe and many other parts of the world. New language skills were acquired to interact with the new nationalities encountered in the colonial period, but the need for foreign languages fit into the older pattern. Today, however, there is an important difference in the need for other languages because the dominant language in the territory is no longer Sm’algyax but English. The colonial period resulted in English becoming the mother tongue of many Tsimshians.

*All spellings of the words in our language, Sm’algyax, are standardized to the spellings in People of the Robin: the Tsimshian of Kitsumkalum by James Andrew McDonald (2003) in order to remain consistent with other writings on this website. Much of the cultural content on this website can be referenced from James Andrew McDonald (2003), People of the Robin: The Tsimshian of Kitsumkalum book, Kitsumkalum Social History Research Projects and Kitsumkalum elders.

Sm’algyax Resources

Sm’algyax Keyboard

This software to adapts the normal keyboard of a computer for the special characters used in Sm’algyax. Download for free:

Talking Dictionary

UNBC Sm’algyax
Living Legacy Talking Dictionary
is a true Living Legacy of Sm’algyax.

Language Map of B.C.

Visit First Voices Language Map for more information regarding First Nation
languages in British Columbia.

Sm’algyax Interpretations for the Months in the Year

JanuaryHa’lisuwiliinskTrapping Month
February Ha’liwilgisiyaaskNorth Wind Month
MarchHa’lilaxsi’wahOolichan Month
AprilHa’lilaxsis’waanaxHerring Roe Month
May Ha’lilaxsila‘ask Seaweed Month
JuneHa’lilaxsimak‘ooxsSalmonberry Month
July Ha’lilaxsimisoo Sockeye Month
AugustHa’lilaxstmhoonPink Salmon Month
September Ha’lilaxsimaay Blueberry Month
OctoberHa’lilaxsigaboox Cockle Month
NovemberHa’lilaxsitsa‘ax Clam Month
December Ha’lilikluugitFeast Month

 Sm’algyax Interpretations for the Moons and the Seasons

New Moon‘Yagagyemk
Half Moon Nastoogyemk
Full MoonHooltgagyemk
First day of SpringKsgoogm sah da Gooym
First day of Summer Ksgoogm sah da Suunt
First day of FallKsgoogm sah da Ksuut
First day of FallKsgoogm sah da Goomsm

Kitsumkalum members are invited to check out Kitsumkalum's Language Revitalization Program's second survey at The survey is 12 questions long and you will receive a gift card for participating. Please share with other Kitsumkalum...

Join the Tea & Book Reading on Zoom: ‘Wii Amap’asm Hana’ax Sleeping Beauty Mountain

Join the Tea & Book Reading on Zoom: ‘Wii Amap’asm Hana’ax Sleeping Beauty Mountain

Join us for an Online Tea Party & Book Reading of ‘Wii Amap’asm Hana’ax: Sleeping Beauty Mountain. Fully translated Sm'algyax and English book by the late respected Kitsumkalum Elder Mildred Roberts. February 21, 2021, Sunday Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm Join us on...

Join Sm’algyax Online Zoom Watercolour Paint Night

Join Sm’algyax Online Zoom Watercolour Paint Night

Everyone welcome! No experience necessary! A night to learn Sm'algyax while exchanging paint tips! Make sure to have a plate or plastic lid to mix colours on. Saturday February 20th, 2021 = 6:30-7:30pm Zoom Meeting ID: 893 0922 3784 Password: Maaxii   Supported...

Sm’algya̱x On Zoom

Sm’algya̱x On Zoom

Sunday Sm'algyax - Raising Sm'algyax - Raising Sm’algya̱x Sm'algyax Kahoots - Nigyooks Sm'algyax Saturday Sm'algyax - Juneau Sm’algya̱x Learners (Message the Juneau Sm'algyax Learners group if you are interested in joining Saturday Sm'algyax)

Speaker Series Event – Luk’wil Smgyit Goo Sm’algya̱x March 2

Speaker Series Event – Luk’wil Smgyit Goo Sm’algya̱x March 2

‘Na Aksa Gyilak’yoo School is proud to announce that we’re hosting Sm’algyax speakers and teachers Medeeg (John Reece) and Al’lidaaw (Terri Burr) of Ketchikan and Metlakatla, Alaska. Everyone is welcomed to attend our event on Saturday March 2nd from noon to 4pm at a...