The Kwak̓wala Speaking Peoples

Ever since the white people first came to our lands, we have been known as the Kwakkewlths by Indian Affairs or as the Kwakiutl by anthropologists. In fact we are the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, people who speak Kwakʼwala, but who live in different places and have different names for our separate groups.

Some of the tribes of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw have disappeared, among them the A̱ʼwa̱ʼetła̱la of Knight Inlet, the Nakamgalisala of Hope Island, the Yutlinux of Cox and Lanz Islands. A few of the groups died out, while some amalgamated with other groups. Some of the villages have been abandoned for years.

In this exhibit, the legends of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw are presented along with photographs of the original villages, where these are available. The photographs are arranged in traditional rank order as recorded by George Hunt in consultation with knowledgeable people of his time. The fact that consensus as to this order no longer exists is evidence that our culture is still alive and changing.

Each group of people on earth has its own story of how it came to be. As Bill Reid says in his prologue to Indian Art of the Northwest Coast.

"In the world today, there is a commonly held belief that, thousands of years ago, as the world counts time, Mongolian nomads crossed a land bridge to enter the western hemisphere, and became the people known as the American Indians.

There is, it can be said, some scanty evidence to support the myth of the land bridge. But there is enormous wealth of proof to confirm that the other truths are all valid."

These are some of the truths. Click to learn about the Tribes of the Kwakwaka'wakw.