The Gitksan kinship is matrilineal so everyone is born into his/her mother's clan and house and can belong to one of three Gitksan clans in the eastern region - Gigeenix: Lax Gibuu (Wolf); Lax Seel or Ganada (Frog); Gisgaast (Fireweed); and one of four clans in the western region - Gyeets: Lax Gibuu (Wolf), Ganada (Frog); Gisgaast (Fireweed) or Lax Skiik (Eagle).
The Gitksan Nation is comprised of a number of families called Wilp or House. They are called this because until the beginning of this century many members of each family would live in a large cedar plank dwellings. The Gitksan kinship is matrilineal so everyone is born into and belongs to the house of his or her mother. Even though the Gitksan no longer live in large extended family groups, House membership still strongly influences Gitksan life.
Each House is led by a Head Chief or Simoogit and several Sub-Chiefs, called K’aax or “wings” who act as his or her advisors. Each House is called the name of its Head Chief. The House is the land owning unit in Gitksan society with each owning one or more clearly defined territories. which usually use rivers, creeks or mountains, using the height of land as boundaries. As well, each House owns fishing sites within their territory. Other property owned exclusively by Houses includes their history (adaawk), crests, songs, dances, and names.
Each house owns a set of hereditary names or titles which are passed down from generation to generation within the family. Some of these names are several thousand years old. A family's set of names include the Chief's names (which are ranked), men's and woman's names, boy's and girl's names, as well as other specialized types of names such as halayat (medicine person's name) or bitxw (divorce name).