Land provides the food, the shelter, and records the history of the people, and in return the people care for and respect the land. These fundamental beliefs and relationships are reflected in the language and vocabulary of the Gitskan. Landscapes are described by both the topographic features and the presence or absence of standing water and trees.

The forest (with trees) communities are not differentiated by species but rather by individual location where different events took place. Treeless areas (without trees) include prairies, burned areas, and even landslides or avalanches. Location and orientation are in reference to the river or the mountain; upstream, downstream, toward the river, away from the river, up the mountain, halfway up the mountain, or down the mountains.

Locations are specified with their name, which demonstrates to whose house (matrilineal family group headed by a chief) it belongs (who owns the land), the resources available at that point, or events that took place in that spot. For example a bend in the river may be called place-to-catch-good-fish, thus recording the importance of the site. The river is central in most references since it is the life-blood of the people, providing the salmon that sustains the people.

Ethnoecology reveals the complex and intricate relationship of people with their land in addition to offering another lens through which to examine the world. It can be very useful when two cultures clash. Currently, ethnoecology is practical as a cultural broker, or a translator/bridge, during development projects. Conservation and agricultural efforts have especially relied on ethnoecology to help local people understand and integrate new technology and practices into their lifestyles.