The name ʼNa̱mǥis comes from a story about ʼNamxiyalegiyu (the Halibut-Like Sea Monster). Before the great flood a ʼNa̱mǥis man knew it would happen because the Creator had sent a message in his dreams. He knew he must wait by the ocean for a huge sea monster, ʼNamxiyalegiyu whose name meant “something terrible”. When rain began and never stopped, ʼNamxiyalegiyu arose from the depths. It was so huge that the tides dropped around the world. The man climbed onto the sea monster, but ʼNamxiyalegiyu was so big that he seemed to be a tiny dot on its gigantic back. The Creator gave this man supernatural power with which he could breathe underwater. ‘Namxiyalegiyu protected the man all the time that he remained under the ocean.
‘Namgis people have occupied the lands and waters that we currently live upon since time immemorial. ‘Namgis Territory encompasses the entire Nimpkish and Kokish River Watersheds on northern Vancouver Island, along with the waters and several adjacent islands in the vicinity of Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Straits.
Historically, ‘Namgis resided throughout the territory, but currently are concentrated in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay, Cormorant Island) There are over 1800 ‘Namgis members currently living in over 100 communities in North America, as well as members in Europe, and the Middle East.