Tribes and History of the First Nations Peoples

Ahousaht First Nation, A-house-aat

Ahousat, Vancouver Island, BC

The Ahousaht First Nation is the largest Nuu-chah-nulth Nation. The Nation is a confederation of multiple former tribes: the Ahousaht, Manhousaht, Kelthsmaht, Piniit-thlaht, Qwaacwi-aht, O-inmitisaht, and Otsosaht. This joining of nations began even before the arrival of the Europeans to their respective shores. Ahousaht’s population of ca. 1900 people. Ahousaht means people (aht) of Ahous, a small bay on the west side of Vargas Island but many are also located on Flores Island north of Tofino.

It is believed that the reserve designations were tiny because the members of the Ahousaht nation, at the time of contact, relied very heavily on Oceanic resources as the main staple of dietary and other needs. The ocean was considered to be "the garden" of the people; hence, it was presumed that little land-base was needed to fulfill the ongoing needs of the people.

Coast Salish First Nation

Northwest Coast of North America from Oregon into BC

The Coast Salish are a big loose grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. Territory claimed by Coast Salish peoples span from the northern limit of the Salish on the inside of Vancouver Island and covers most of southern Vancouver Island, all of the Lower Mainland and most of Puget Sund and the Olympic Peninsula. 

The Coast Salish cultures differ considerably from those of their northern neighbors. It is one of the few indigenous systems, with inheritance and descent passed through the male line. According to a 2013 estimate, the population of Coast Salish numbers at least 56,590 people,

View all Coast Salish First Nation art in the gallery

Cowichan Tribes, Duncan 

Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC

With over 4,900 members, they are the largest single First Nation Band in British Columbia. Called the “People of the warm land / Quq’tsun Hwulmuhw”, they are located in the Cowichan Valley region on Vancouver Island. They have owned and occupied their territory for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence dates their existence as far back as 4,500 years, but their historical memory says that they have been here since time immemorial.
They are the Hul’q’umi’num people which means people who speak the Hul’q’umi’num language and are a part of a larger first nations group referred to as the Coast Salish People.

Cree First Nation

Moberly Lake, Northern, BC

The Cree were first contacted by Europeans in 1682, at the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes rivers in what is now northern Manitoba, by a Hudson’s Bay, traveling about 100 miles inland. In the south, contact was later. In 1732 in what is now northwestern Ontario. When met with an assembled group of 200 Cree warriors near present-day Fort Frances, both groups had donned war paint in preparation for an attack on the Dakota

After acquiring firearms from the HBC, the Cree moved as traders into the plains, acting as middlemen with the HBC.
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America. In Canada, over 350 000 people are Cree or have Cree ancestry. The major proportion of Cree in Canada lives in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Northern Territories and Quebec.

Da'naxda'xw First Nation, Da-nak-dah

Alert Bay, Alert Bay Island, BC

The Da'naxda'xw Nation is a First Nation government in northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Its main community is in Alert Bay, in the Queen Charlotte Strait region Language Group is Kwakiutl.

Ditidaht First Nation, Dit-ee-dat

Nitinath, Vancouver Island, BC

One of the earliest references to Indian people appears in an 1849 report written by W.C. Grant for Governor James Douglas. Grant settled in the Sooke area that same year. Nitinaht-speaking Indians employed by Grant told him that the “Natives around Patchana are numerous, those at Nittinat still more so.” No actual estimates of the numbers of Ditidaht or Pacheenaht were given at this time.
Two years after this Douglas census in 1855, additional data were provided by Peter Francis and W.E. Banfield. Francis and Banfield said they had been trading with Indians for the past 12 months along the west coast of Vancouver Island. They estimated the total population of the “Nettinets” to be 800 including men, women, and children. Of this population, 250 were said to be “able-bodied men.”

The present-day Ditidaht Nation population is about 350, of whom approximately 120 live on our Malachan Indian Reserve at Nitinat Lake.


Dzawada'enuxw First Nation

Kingcome Inlet, East coast, northern Vancouver Island, BC

They refer to themselves as both the Dzawada’enuxw and the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw. The outside world sees them as four tribes, and the Government of Canada defined them as such. However, they have always been One People. The Four Tribes, including the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, are members of the Kwakwaka’wakw group of nations. The Kwakwaka’wakw people occupy the lower central region of the Pacific Northwest Coast. They have a long history of co-operation and intermarriage among the Four Tribes: Dzawada’enux?w, Gwawa?’enux?w; ?wi?wa?sut?inux?w; and, Ha?x?wa’mis.

“Listen carefully my children, grandchildren. We are fortunate. Where we have come from is wealth. The coppers are real, and stay.”
Coppers are important symbols of wealth and power. Each has its own name and history, and the value increases each time it is sold or given away. There is some fine material in transcripts of the Royal Commission of 1913-16 which record eloquent comments in speeches from the chiefs of Kingcome.

The four laws that govern them are:
1) Respect for All of Creation: equality of humans, animals and the earth “all of creation”
2) Maintenance of a Strong Spirituality
3) The Value of a Relationship with their people and other Nations
4) Bringing forth “the Gift of the Self”: an individual is connected to the community through what one brings to it.


Ehattesaht First Nation

Zeballos, Vancouver Island, BC

Ehattesaht is a small nation with a large traditional territory of over 66,000 ha on the North West Coast of Vancouver Island.

They are a comparatively small tribe, despite owning 66,000 hectares. A huge culture and history are held within their Hereditary Chiefs and Elders. They have 442 registered members located in the Zeballos inlet which is on the North West Coast of Vancouver Island. Ehattesaht is accessible by helicopter, boat or plane and by logging road. Ehattesaht people originally spoke the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language. Ehattesaht was originally spelled ?iih?atis. Nuu-chah-nulth means all along the mountains and sea according to Nuu-chah-nulth. The language is highly endangered to become extinct due to the fact that only 200 people of 8000 speak the language and they are all above the age of 50.


Esquimalt First Nations, Es-kwy-malt

Victoria/Esquimalt, Vancouver Island, BC

The Esquimalt First Nation is a First Nations government of the Esquimalt people. Historically their village was located closer to Victoria proper, but today their main reserve is on the north shore of Esquimalt Harbor adjacent to the Town of View Royal.

The Esquimalt Nation is a small nation with ca. 150 members living on reserve and another 100 living off reserve. Off-reserve members live in Victoria, in other parts of Vancouver Island and BC, Alberta, and in a number of communities in Washington State.


Gitxsan First Nation

Skeena River, Northern BC

Gitxsan’s home territory comprises most of the area known as the Skeena Country. They are part of the Tsimshianic language group. They were at one time also known as the Interior Tsimshian, a term which also included the Nisga’a, the Gitxsan's neighbors to the north. Their neighbors to the west are the Tsimshian while to the east Athapaskan people, with whom they have a long and deep relationship and shared political and cultural community.

Gitxsan is a matrilineal society that consists of Frog, Eagle, Wolf, and Fireweed Clans. Each clan consists of a series of independent Houses, each with their own High Chief, and traditional territories and fishing sites. Marriage within a clan is forbidden.


Gwa'sala-Nakwaxda'xw Nation, Gwa-sala-nak-wah-dah

Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC

The Gwa'Sala-Nakwaxda'xw Nations are a union of two Kwakwaka/wakw peoples in a band government based on northern Vancouver Island. Main reserve community is near the town of Port Hardy in Queen Charlotte Strait, Central coast of BC

The Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw Nation was originally two distinct First Nations, In the mid-1960s the Federal Government relocated the two nations to the current reserve and amalgamated them along with the neighboring Kwakiulth into one group. Eventually, the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw Nations and the Kwakiutl First Nation separated into the two groups that are recognized by the federal government to this day.


Gwawaenuk Tribe

Port McNeil, Vancouver Island, BC

The Gwawaenuk Tribe, or Gwawa?enux?w is a band government of the Kwakwaka’ wakw people located in the Queen Charlotte Strait region


Haida Nation

Haida Gwaii, formerly Queen Charlotte, BC

Haida is associated with Haida Gwaii and the Haida language. Haida has occupied Haida Gwaii for more than 17,000 years. Pollen fossils and oral histories both confirm that Haida ancestors were present when the first tree arrived. The Haida are known for their craftsmanship, trading skills, and seamanship. They are thought to have been warlike and to practice slavery.
The Haida conducted regular trade with Russian, Spanish, British, and American fur traders and whalers. Like other groups on the Northwest Coast, the Haida defended themselves with fortifications. The aggressive tribe was particularly feared in sea battles. The Haida took captives from defeated enemies. Between 1780 and 1830, the Haida turned their aggression towards European and American traders. The tribe made use of the weapons they so acquired and using cannons and canoe-mounted guns.

In 1856, an expedition in search of a route across Vancouver Island when they observed a large fleet of Haida canoes approaching and hid in the forest. They observed these attackers holding human heads. When the explorers reached the mouth of the river, they came upon the charred remains of the village of the Qualicum people and the mutilated bodies of its inhabitants, with only one survivor, an elderly woman, hiding terrified inside a tree stump
Also in 1857, Haida had been attacking and enslaving the Coast Salish People

When the Haida and Tongass warriors refused to acknowledge American jurisdiction a battle ensued in which 26 natives and one government soldier were killed. In the aftermath of this, a US military officer and the first settler was shot and beheaded in 1857 by a small Tlingit group. The scalp was purchased from the Kake by an American trader in 1860. Smallpox among the Haida at Victoria in March 1862 significantly reduced their sovereignty over their traditional territories and opened the doorway to the colonial power. As many as nine in ten Haidas died of smallpox.

In 1885 the Haida potlatch was outlawed. The elimination of the potlatch system destroyed financial relationships and seriously interrupted the cultural heritage of coastal people.
Missionaries regarded their carved totem poles as graven images rather than representations of the family histories that wove Haida society together. Chiefly families showed their histories by erecting totems outside their homes, or on house posts forming the building. Their social organization was matrilineal. As the islands were Christianized, many cultural works such as totem posts were destroyed or taken to museums around the world. This significantly undermined Haida self-knowledge and further diminished morale.
The government began forcibly sending some Haida children to residential schools as early as 1911. Haida children were sent as far away as Alberta to live among English-speaking families where they were to be assimilated into the dominant culture.

HAIDA Art
Stylized Haida sculptures are regularly identified by the carved, raised eyelid line and a distinctive concave orbit who’s outline sweeps in a defined curve from the bridge of the nose past the temple to the nostril. Most examples of Haida Art depict quest figures which appear in both sculptural and 2-dimensional forms. Using a flowing broad black line as its basis, the Haida developed a flat design to an abstracted and intellectualized perfection

HAIDA Shaman Figures
In the last decades of the 19th. Century, Haida artists began to produce ”Curios”, which portrait subjects and scenes formally regarded as taboo. The depiction of such esteemed persons as shamans in ritual regalia probably reflects the breaking apart of traditional Haida cultural values under the combined weight of population loss and missionization


Haisla First Nation

Kitimat, North Coast, BC

The Haisla Nation is the band government of the Haisla people. They are about 1700 people, with the majority living in Kitamaat Village. They have lived off the land and waters of their traditional territory for thousands of years, and it remains the focus of all they do.


Halalt First Nation, Ha-lalt

Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC

The Halalt originate from the village of xeláltxw, which means ‘marked houses’ or ‘painted houses’, a reference to the fact that the house posts in this village were decorated. According to information collected by Rozen (1985), this village was once located in the Cowichan Valley, at the spot where the Silver Bridge currently crosses the Cowichan River, at the south-eastern edge of the city of Duncan. According to Cowichan oral history, the forefathers of both the Cowichan and Chemainus people originated from this village.

The residents of this village later relocated to a village at the north end of Willy Island, the largest of the Shoal Islands located just off the mouth of the Chemainus River, perhaps in the early part of the 19th Century. When they moved, they took the village name with them. Rozen (1985) reports that, historically, there were at least five or six houses in the village in Willy Island. Although the entire island was designated an Indian Reserve the village was abandoned in the 1920s and the residents moved to the Westholme reserve on the lower Chemainus River


Heiltsuk First Nation

Bella Bella, Northern Mainland, BC

The Heiltsuk Nation centered on Campbell Island in the community of Bella Bella, BC. They speak the Heiltsuk language and were, incorrectly known in the past as the "Northern Kwakiutl". The Heiltsuk were also known as the Bella Bella, after their core community.

The present-day Heiltsuk First Nation is an amalgamation of 5 tribal groups who inhabited an area approximately 6000 square miles of the Central Coast of
The 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision found that the Heiltsuk have an Aboriginal right to trade in Herring. This was the first decision recognizing a commercial Aboriginal right in Canada. An archeological team has excavated a settlement in the area — in traditional Heiltsuk Nation territory — and dated it to 14,000 years ago, during the last ice age where glaciers covered much of North America.


Hesquiaht First Nation, Hesh-kwit

Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC

Hesquiaht First Nation is the most northerly and also the most remote of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations in the Clayoquot Sound. Along with 13 other First Nations on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, they are members of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

In 1964 their village was located at the head of the Bay in Refuge Cove when the Tsunami hit. The village was decimated and those who lived there were displaced until 1972 when the decision was made to relocate to the east side of Refuge Cove, where the community remains to this day. Hesquiaht First Nation has 700 members. Of those many live in urban centers from Port Alberni to Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver. Hesquiaht people still practice and pass down cultural traditions from generation to generation.


Homalco First Nation, Ho-mall-ko

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

Homalco First Nation is traditionally known as the "People of fast running waters," named after the turbulent waters surrounding our original home in Bute Inlet B.C. Canada. Originally their home was situated at Look-out point (Aaron rapids/Sonora) 1700's/1800's and then moved to "Aupe" an area just southwest of Sonora.

Many Homalco people would live up and down the Bute Inlet and hold residence in various areas of Bute Inlet during all season's where they would hunt, fish, berry-pick and gather for the coming winter. Their people eventually moved on to "Church-House" area and made it their home from the early 1900s to the early 1980s. With shelter from the North and South wind and plenty of fishing nearby this particular area proved to be very beneficial for the Homalco people
Church-House was a busy village made up of our Homalco people – in the 1930's Catholic Missionaries moved into Homalco territory to teach them the likes of the Bible. Many people stayed in Church House, but many children were forced into "Residential Schools" in the early 1930s. This, in turn, made it impossible for us to continue our traditional ways of life and as well as our beliefs.

In the late 1970s, early 1980's the Churchouse area was completed deserted and was to be that way forever as all of Homalco moved to Campbell River, Cortez and other local areas where there would be enough resources for them to survive the modern world.

The Homalco people have not lost their culture completely though, we are working hard on showing our Youth our traditional way's of life and proving to our Elder's that we will respect and carry on our long-lived traditional ways of life.

Hupacasath First Nation, Who-pe-chess-it

Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC

The Hupa?asath First Nations traditional territory is very grand compared to other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. The territory is approximately 229,000 hectares, which engulfs the whole Alberni Valley. The boundaries for this territory are basically the mountain peaks from the Alberni Valley, which start from the north at Mt. Chief Frank, from the south at 5040 Peak and Hannah Mountain, from the east at Mt. Arrowsmith and Mt Spencer, and from the west from Big Interior Mountain. This territory contains some of the most valuable forest, fish and marine resources in the world. The winds formed by the warm offshore currents of the Pacific Ocean create a tepid maritime climate with a summer dry period. This creates vast forests of western red cedar, yellow cedar, douglas fir, hemlock, and balsam. The lakes and rivers contain all five species of Pacific Salmon as well as Steelhead and Trout.


Huu-Ay-Aht (Nootka) First Nations

Bamfield, Vancouver Island, BC

The Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a First Nations band government based on Pachena Bay about 300 km (190 mi) northwest of Victoria on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The HFN is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and is a member of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society.

Inuit /Eskimo
Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska

The Inuit "the people” are a group of culturally similar Indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. The languages are part of the Eskimo-Aleut family.

In the United States and Canada, the term “Eskimo” was commonly used by ethnic Europeans to describe the Inuit and Alaska's Yupik and Inupiat peoples. However, "Inuit" is not accepted as a term for the Yupik, and "Eskimo" is the only term that applies to Yupik, Iñupiat, and Inuit. Since the late 20th century, indigenous people consider "Eskimo" to be a pejorative term, and they more frequently identify as "Inuit"

The Inuit live throughout most of Northern Canada in the territory of Nunavut, Nunavik and the northern third of Quebec, and Nunatu Kavut in Labrador as well as in various parts of the Northwest Territories, particularly around the Arctic Ocean.


Ka:'yuk:'k'th, Kyuquot First Nation

Kyuquot Sound, Vancouver Island, BC

Kyuquot is an unincorporated settlement and First Nations Indian reserve community located on Kyuquot Sound on northwestern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada


Klahoose First Nation, Kla-hoos

Mansons Landing, Vancouver Island, BC

The Klahoose are one of the three groups comprising the Mainland Comox. The other two divisions of this once-populous group are the Homalco and Sliammon. The three groups were split by colonialism into different band councils but united historically as the Mainland Comox, and K’omoks, the larger grouping also known as the Island Comox. Historically both groups are a subgroup of the Coast Salish though the K'omoks name is from, and their language today is the k'wala (Southern Kwakiutl) dialect of Kwak’wala.


Komox Indian Band, Comox

Courtney/Comox, Vancouver Island, BC

The origin of the Komox people began at the meeting of the Quinsam (kwaniwsam) and Campbell Rivers. Mary Clifton, the last speaker of the Island Comox dialect, has conveyed the origin story of a man named Shalhk’em and woman named Tisitl’a that “dropped down from the sky” at kwaniwsam (Quinsam) in present-day Campbell River. With them, they brought the mask and garments of the Xwayxway and together became the first ancestors of the Island Comox people. For the descendants of the Shalhk’em and Tisitl’a, kwaniwsam remains the central location in which Island Comox territory moves outward to Salmon River in the north, Cape Lazo in the south, and the islands in the Salish Sea (formally the Strait of Georgia).

“A long time ago, Cia’tlk’am descended from the sky. He wore the feather garment Qua’eqoe and settled in Nga’icam (Cape Mudge). He became the ancestor of the Catloltq (Comox). With him, his sister Te’sitla arrived. She was so big that she needed two boats to cross the sea. The brother and sister wandered through all countries and visited the Nanaimo, Ni’ciatl (Ni-Such), Tlahu’s (Kahuse) and many other tribes who all became their younger brothers. {Boas 1895:86}


Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) First Nations

Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC

The Kwakiutl natively Kwakwa?ka?’wakw -speaking peoples are a Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous people. Their current population, according to a 2016 census, is 3,665. Most live in BC on Vancouver Island.

Kwakwaka'wakw oral history says their ancestors (‘na’mima) came in the forms of animals by way of the land, sea, or underground. When one of these ancestral animals arrived at a given spot, it discarded its animal appearance and became human. Animals that figure in these origin myths include the Thunderbird, his brother Kolus, the seagull, orca, grizzly bear, or chief ghost. Some ancestors have human origins and are said to come from distant places

Historically, the Kwakwaka'wakw economy was based primarily on fishing, with the men also engaging in some hunting, and the women gathering wild fruits and berries. Ornate weaving and woodwork were important crafts, and wealth, defined by slaves and material goods, was prominently displayed and traded at potlatch ceremonies. In contrast to most non-native societies, wealth and status were not determined by how much you had, but by how much you had to give away. This act of giving away your wealth was one of the main acts in a potlatch.
The first documented contact was with Captain George Vancouver in 1792.

Kwagiulth Winter Ceremony
Despite pressure from missionaries and bureaucrats who tried to eliminate traditional ceremonies, certain tribes held out and continued to practice them. During the winter the Kwagiulth persisted in practicing their sacred red cedar bark ceremonial in which myths were re-enacted in song and dance using spectacular masks.

Kwagiulth Marriage repayment
After several years of marriage, a Kwagiulth woman was redeemed by her family through the repayment of the marriage debt. At this time, property, food, coppers and ceremonial privileges were given to the groom in return for the payment he made to his father-in-law at the time in marriage. Highly priced box lid flanges inlaid with sea otter teeth replaced on the beach in the outline of a symbolic double canoe, in which the gifts were displayed before the presentation. The ceremony ended with the transfer of a copper, a unit of considerable wealth and a box filled with such ceremonial privileges as whistles, masks, and rattles.

SOUTHERN KWAGIULTH Art (mostly Vancouver Island)
Southern Kwagiulth sculptures are characterized by strong, somewhat angular carvings and preference for overall painting. This combination of techniques produces a rather flamboyant expression. The majority of southern Kwagiulth masks are used in winter ceremonies to re-enact hereditary mythical events.

NORTHERN KWAGIULTH Art (mostly BC northern West coast
Northern Kwagiulth sculptures are transitional, showing influences of both Haida and Tsimshian Neighbors. However certain figures such as the shape of the mouth and the eyes placed high in the orbits help to distinguish classic northern Kwagiulth masks. Most masks are used in rites in which a dancer was believed to be transported to the heavens by spirits and later returned to earth


Kwiakah First Nation, kwee-a-ka

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

Kwiakah First Nation is Lekwala speaking peoples. The Kwiakah are identified as part of the Laich-Kwil-Tach. The Laich-Kwil-Tach are the southernmost speakers of this northern Wakashan language. The traditional material culture, subsistence, social organization, religious and ceremonial practices of the Kwakw ak a’wakw were extensively documented in the late 19th and early 20thcentury by Franz Boas. Kwiakah First Nation entered the Treaty Process in February 1994 and is now in Stage 4 of the six-stage process “Negotiating an agreement in principle” (AIP). The goal of stage 4 is to reach the major agreements that will form the basis of the treaty. The Nation is represented in Treaty negotiations by the Hamatla Treaty Society. Also, the Kwiakah is a member of the Nanwakolas Council and the Kwakuitl District Council.


Kwicksutaineuk, Ak-kwa-mish Tribes

Alert Bay, Alert Bay Island, BC

Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis, formerly the Kwicksutaineuk-ah-kwa-mish First Nation is a First Nations band government based on northern Vancouver Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait region.

Lake Cowichan First Nation

Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, BC

The Lake Cowichan First Nation government and the reserve is located in Lake Cowichan, BC. The Lake Cowichan First Nation, while its own distinct group, is closely linked to the peoples of the Cowichan Tribes band government, and is part of the Hul’qumi’num linguistic group. There are over 15 registered tribal members

Early settlers to the Lake Cowichan area described "a small tribe of Indians" living in "houses constructed of bark." During the 19th Century, the Lake Cowichan First Nation was decimated by disease and conflict with neighboring groups. In 1887 the surveyor Ashdown Green reported that the Lake Cowichan people had once been a large tribe but had been nearly wiped out by war with the neighboring Cowichan Tribes and Ditidahts. In 1860, a prospector by the name of Samuel Harris traveled to the area seeking minerals and reported that many of the Natives were dead and dying from smallpox. Archaeological investigations have revealed the historic presence of a village on the northeast side of the lake, within the boundaries of the present-day Cowichan Lake Indian Reserve.

Lyackson First Nation, Ly-ack-sun

Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC

Lyackson Mustimuhw is a Central Coast Salish Hul’q’umi’num community of 200 members presently based in Chemainus, Vancouver Island


Malahat First Nation

Mill Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

The Malahat First Nation is a First Nations government located on southeastern Vancouver Island in southwestern British Columbia with offices in Mill Bay, Malahat. Their resounding message is of recognizing the past and moving toward the future.


Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'sot'em Band

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

The Mamalilikulla Band is a First Nations band government based on northern Vancouver Island. The home territory of the Mamalilikulla and Qwe-Qwa-Sot’em groups of Kwakwakaw’wakws in the maze of islands and inlets of the eastern Queen Charlotte Strait Region around the opening of Knight Inlet.


Metis Nations
Trace their descent to First Nations Peoples and European Settlers

The Métis in Canada, Canadian French; European French are groups of peoples in Canada who trace their descent to First Nations peoples and European settlers, primarily French in the early decades. They are recognized as one of Canada’s aboriginal peoples under the Constitution Act of 1982 along with First Nations and Inuit peoples. Canadian Métis represent the majority of people that identify as Metis, although there are a number of them in the US.


Mohawk
New York state, Vermont, Quebec, and eastern Ontario

The Mohawk people are the most easterly tribe of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. The Mohawk was historically based in the valley of the Mohawk in present-day upstate New York west of the Hudson River. As one of the five original members of the Iroquois League, the Mohawk were known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door. For hundreds of years, they guarded the Iroquois Confederation against invasion from that direction by tribes from the New England and lower New York areas. Their current major settlements include areas around Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in Canada and New York.

The Mohawk became wealthy traders as other nations in their confederacy needed their flint for tool making. The Algonquians and Iroquois were traditional competitors and enemies.


Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation

Gold River, Vancouver Island, BC

The Mowachaht / Muchalaht people consider the Yuquot Historic Village (Friendly Cove) as the center of the world for all Nootka First Nations on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Yuquot means “where the winds blow from many directions”. The Yuquot village is the kickoff point for the Nootka Trail, a 5-day hike along the west coast shores of Nootka


Namgis First Nation, Nam-gees

Alert Bay, Alert Bay Island, BC

The name ?Na?m?is comes from a story about ?Namxiyalegiyu (the Halibut-Like Sea Monster). Before the great flood a ?Na?m?is 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, ?Namxiyalegiyu whose name meant “something terrible”. When rain began and never stopped, ?Namxiyalegiyu arose from the depths. It was so huge that the tides dropped around the world. The man climbed onto the sea monster, but ?Namxiyalegiyu 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.

When the waters went down ?Namxiyalegiyu returned the man to his homeland. The man looked around and saw that he was all alone, so he took the name Namukustolis (Only One in the World). He came to the beach near the mouth of the ?Na?m?is River. Namukustolis was very lonely, so after a time, he snared some birds and transformed them into people. This is how he started the ?Na?m?is a tribe. He kept the great sea monster, ?Namxiyalegiyu, as his tribe’s crest, because it was his protector and had saved him during the great flood.

‘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.‘Namgis lands have never been ceded to any other entity, government, or outside agent, they have owned and managed these lands for thousands of years.


Nisga'a First Nation / Tlingit

Nass River Valley, Northwestern BC

The Nisga’a are an Indigenous people of Canada in BC. They reside in the Nass River valley of northwestern British Columbia. The name is a reduced form of nasqua, which is a loan word from Tongass Tlingit, where it means "people of the Nass River.
The official languages are the Nisg?a’a language and English.


Nitinath / Ditidaht First Nation

Nitinath, Vancouver Island, BC

One of the earliest references to Indian people appears in an 1849 report written by W.C. Grant for Governor James Douglas. Grant settled in the Sooke area that same year. Nitinaht-speaking Indians employed by Grant told him that the “Natives around Patchana are numerous, those at Nittinat still more so.” No actual estimates of the numbers of Ditidaht or Pacheenaht were given at this time.

Two years after this Douglas census in 1855, additional data were provided by Peter Francis and W.E. Banfield. Francis and Banfield said they had been trading with Indians for the past 12 months along the west coast of Vancouver Island. They estimated the total population of the “Nettinets” to be 800 including men, women, and children. Of this population, 250 were said to be “able-bodied men.”

The present-day Ditidaht Nation population is about 350, of whom approximately 120 live on our Malachan Indian Reserve at Nitinat Lake.


Nuchatlaht First Nation

Zeballos, Vancouver Island, BC

Nuchatlaht is a small community located approximately 3 hours west of Campbell River in a remote portion of Vancouver Island. It is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council which consists of 14 communities along the western portion of Vancouver Island. Nuchatlaht has approximately 20 members living on-reserve and a total membership of 162.


Nuu-Chah-Nulth (Nootka) First Nations

Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC

Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Canada. When explorer Captain James Cook encountered Nuu-chah-nulth villagers at Yuquot (Nootka Island, west of Vancouver Island) in 1778, he misunderstood the name for their nation to be Nootka, the term historically used to describe the Nuu-chah-nulth. The inlet where Cook first encountered the Nuu-chah-nulth is now known as Nootka Sound. In 1978, the Nuu-chah-nulth chose the collective term Nuu-chah-nulth (nuu?aan?u?, meaning “all along the mountains and sea”) to describe the First Nations of western Vancouver Island. In the 2016 census, 4,310 people identified as having Nuu-chah-nulth ancestry, 380 people reported the Nuu-chah-nulth language as their mother tongue.

Today, the ha’houlthee of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations stretches approximately 300 km of Vancouver Island’s Pacific Coast, from Brooks Peninsula in the north to Point-no-Point in the south, and includes inland regions. There are also currently 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations divided into three regions: the Southern Region (Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht, Hpacasath, Tse-shaht, Uchucklesaht); the Central Region (Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, Ucluelet) and the Northern Region (Ehattesaht, Kyuquot/Checleseht, Mowachat/Muchalaht, and Nucalaht).


Nuxalk First Nation

Bella Coola, Mainland, Northern BC

We are the Nuxalk Nation, located in and around what is known to some as Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada. They have been occupying and exercising their rights on the lands, water, and resources of their ancestral territory since time immemorial. The Nuxalk Nation is a mixture of many villages that were distributed throughout kulhulmcilh (their land), including the four largest villages: Talyu in Ats’aaxlh (South Bentick); Suts’lhm (Kimsquit) to the north -this includes Satskw’ (Kimsquit River) and Nutl’l (Dean River); Kwalhna to the west; and Q’umk’uts‘ to the east.

Bella Coola Art
Bella Coola sculptures and masks are characterized by bold, bulbous carving. Service painting consists of solid u-forms both following and crossing carved planes. Bella Coola masks are generally used as representations of supernatural beings inhabiting various worlds above and below the earth; thus their use often reveals Bella Coola cosmology


Pacheedaht First Nation, pak-eed-aat

Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, BC

Pacheedaht territory includes the lands and waters along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island between Bonilla Point and Sheringham Point. The name "Pacheedaht" translates to English as "Children of the Sea Foam" and refers to an origin history story.

The Pacheedaht language is similar to that of their neighbors and relatives amongst the Ditidaht First Nation and also with the Makah people across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington State. The Pacheedaht language is also similar to the language spoken by the various Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations further to the north and west along Vancouver Island's coast. Pacheedaht people are related by kinship, language, and culture to several other First Nations on Vancouver Island and to the Makah. The Pacheedaht have many relatives and friends amongst neighboring communities.

In fact, according to traditional history, long ago Pacheedaht and Ditidaht ancestors lived together as one tribe at an origin village located on the river whose native name is Diitiida.


Pauquachin First Nation, Pak-qwa-chee-sat

Sidney by the sea, Vancouver Island, BC

The Pauquachin First Nation is the band government of the Pauquachin group of North Straits Salish speaking indigenous peoples. Their reserve communities and traditional territories are located in the Greater Victoria and Sidney area of Vancouver Island.


Penelakut Tribe

Chemainus/Kuper Island, Vancouver Island, BC

The Penelakut First Nation accounts for about 13 percent of the Hul’qumi’num population. Historically, Penelakut villages were found on Kuper Island, Galiano Island, and on Vancouver Island near the mouth of the Chemainus River. Today, the Penelakut have reserves on Kuper Island, Tent Island, Galiano Island, and one small reserve on the lower reaches of the Chemainus River.

The term ‘Penelakut’ is used to refer to all the Hul’qumi’num people who, at one time or another, have lived on Kuper Island. Historically, there were three permanent winter villages on Kuper Island: at Penelakut Spit, Telegraph Harbour, and Lamalchi Bay. There were also villages at Chemainus Harbour and on Galiano Island. Penelakut Spit extends off the northeast end of Kuper Island and was the site of the largest Hul’qumi’num village on the Gulf Islands.


Qualicum First Nation

Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, BC

The Qualicum First Nation is a First Nations band government located in Qualicum Bay at the mouth of the Big Qualicum River, near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.


Quatsino First Nation, Qwat-sino

Coal Harbor, Vancouver Island, BC

The Quatsino First Nation is the First Nations band government of the Gwat’sinux subgroup of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, based in the Quatsino Sound region on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island, focused on the community of Coal Harbour in Quatsino Sound.


Saulteaux First Nations/Cree

Moberly Lake, Northern, BC

Saulteaux First Nation is an Anishinaabe First Nation band government, whose reserves are located near Cochin, Saskatchewan. In February 2012, the First Nation had a total of 1,225 registered members, of which 604 lived on their own reserve.


Snaw-Naw-As First Nation, Sna-no-az

Lantzville, Vancouver Island, BC

The Nanoose First Nation, also known as the Snaw-Na-Was First Nation, is a First Nations government located on southern Vancouver Island in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, in the vicinity of the Nanoose Bay, situated 30 minutes north of Nanaimo, B.C. Along with 18 other tribes in the Salish Sea, we are Coast Salish people, one of the northernmost tribes on the east side of Vancouver Island.


Snuneymuxw First Nation, Shnah-nay-mo

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC

The Snuneymuxw is a vibrant First Nation of the Coast Salish People, located in the center of Coast Salish territory on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Fraser River in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The Snuneymuxw First Nation is one of the largest Nations in B.C. with a population of over 1,700 people. They are one of the few Nations that have a pre-Confederation treaty with the Crown. Unfortunately, it has been systematically undermined, ignored and dishonored by the Crown and as a result, they currently live on the smallest reserve land base per capita of any First Nation in British Columbia.


Songhees Nation

Victoria/Esquimalt, Vancouver Island, BC

The Songhees or Songish, also known as the Lekwungen or Lekungen, are an indigenous North American Coast Salish people who reside on southeastern Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the Greater Victoria area. Located adjacent to the Township of Esquimalt and the Town of View Royal. The community is comprised of five main families and several smaller families. Administration and Governance are under the authority of an elected Chief and Council.


Stz’uminus

Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC

Stz'uminus First Nation is in the territory and sacred land of their ancestors with six sites: Kulleet Bay, Shell Beach, Kumalockasun, Oyster Bay, Number 10 and Number 11. They traveled great distances to the Frazer River, Quadra Island, and down to the United States of America for the harvesting of food, gathering of medicines and many other resources. Along the Frazer River many years ago the Stz’uminus people had many big houses at Tluquinus. This is where some of their people settled permanently. Stz'uminus First Nation people would paddle ocean-going canoes over the Salish Sea to reach Tluquinus. They have profound respect for each other The Stz'uminus people moved from place to place, sometimes down island to our relatives in the Saanich area. As a result of all of this traveling, some of their Hulq’umi’num names originate from the United States of America.


T'Sou-ke Nation, sook

Sooke, Vancouver Island, BC

The T'sou-ke Nation of the Coast Salish peoples is a band whose reserve community is located on Vancouver Island, BC. In February 2013, the T'sou-ke Nation had 251 registered members with two reserves around the Sooke Basin on the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the southern end of Vancouver Island. The T'Souk-e people are the namesake of the town of Sooke.


Tahltan /Athabascan First Nation

Telegraph Creek, BC

Tahltan is a First Nations people of the Athabaskan speaking ethnolinguistic group who live in northern BC around Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake, and Iskut. The Tahltan constitute the fourth division of the Nahane (People of the West)

The Tahltan customs and livelihoods varied widely as they were often widely separated and would have to endure varying conditions depending on their locality. In Tahltan culture, it was believed that some of their ancestors had knowledge that others did not from times before a great flood. Some of these ancestors used that knowledge for the good of the people, while others used it for evil and to the disadvantage of others. Raven is considered to be the protagonist hero against these evil ancestors.


Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, T-lay-qwat

Tofino/Meares Island, BC

Tla-o-qui-aht people have occupied the area of Meares Island, Tofino, Long Beach and beyond as far as Sutton Pass what is now known as highway 4 west of Port Alberni.

Their history tells us that their nation was one of the strongest nations on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Home to skilled fisherman, master carvers, talented artists, and culturally refined and skilled singers and dancers.


Tlatlasikwala First Nation

Alert Bay/Port McNeil, Alert Bay Island, BC

They are descendants of the Tlatlasikwala, Nakumgilisala and Yutlinuk peoples. Their territory covers the lands and waters of northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. The home village is at beautiful Bull Harbour on Hope Island.

Their peoples originated from spiritual places in their Territory, places they hold sacred today. They numbered in the thousands until contact with sailing vessels 200 years ago and had no immunity to the introduced diseases. Today the survivor's number 65 and they are working hard to rebuild their community.


Tlingit First Nation

Alaska and Yukon, BC

The Tlingit, meaning “people of the tides,” are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, who define themselves as sharing a common cultural heritage. Tlingit territories are located in the Pacific Northwest and cover parts of present-day British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska.
In the 19th century, most of their ancestors lived on the upper reaches of the Taku River that flows into the Pacific Ocean near Juneau, Alaska. Inland Tlingit depended heavily on annual salmon runs in the Taku Basin, but also hunted.

The Tlingit are a matrilineal nation divided into moieties or groups; each moiety consists of many clans. Tlingit living inland or on the coast often married one another, and also intermarried with surrounding groups, such as the Dene (Athapaskans) and Tahltan.
Tlingit is the name of the language spoken by the Nation and is part of the Na-Dene (or Dene) language, which is part of the Athapaskan linguistic family.

During the late 1800s, the Tlingit moved to the Yukon as a means of accessing its rich fur resources, but also because of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897–99.


Tlowitsis Tribe

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

The Tlowitsis is the First Nation of 450 registered members. Traditional territories span the coastal area of Northern Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait, and adjacent mainland inlets. From time immemorial until the 1960s, they occupied numerous sites throughout these lands. Seasonal travel routes, food processing locations, burial, and cultural sites and other named places extend across the entire territory. Kalagwees, located on Turnour Island, was their primary winter residence.

The Tlowitsis were displaced from Kalagwees in the late 1960s, leading their people to be culturally and physically separated from their traditional territories. Since then, the Tlowitsis have been a First Nation without a formal community to call home, and limited opportunities have been available to their people to take an active role in their community.

In the spring of 2018, the Tlowitsis finalized the purchase of a 635-acre property in the Strathcona Regional District, just south of Campbell River. It is here that we will be establishing a new home community for their citizens, known as Nenaqwas or “a place to come home to” in English.


Toquaht First Nation, Toe-kwat

Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, BC

The Toquaht are the people of Toquaht Bay, Mayne Bay, and western Barkley Sound, and are one of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations who has lived along Vancouver Island's west coast for over 10,000 years.


Tsartlip First Nation, Tsar-lip

Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

The Tsartlip First Nation is a First Nation located on the Saanich Peninsula, in Saanich territory on Vancouver Island. Its main administrative offices are located in Brentwood Bay.

Note: My Mondo Trading is also located in Brentwood Bay :o)


Tsawout First Nation

Saanichton, Vancouver Island, BC

The Tsawout First Nation is one of five bands that constitute the Saanich Nation. The other bands of the Saanich Nation are Tsartlip, Tseycum, Malahat, and Pauquachin. The Tsawout First Nation main village is about 15 minutes north of the City of Victoria and lies on the east side of the Saanich Peninsula.


Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC

Tseshaht First Nation is one of the 14 Nations that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth [Nootka] people of western Vancouver Island.

At the core of Tseshaht culture is their chronicle of creation; their spiritual origin. They were created at Benson Island, one of the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound. Tseshaht translates as “people of a rancid smelly place” because the inhabitants were such great whalers and their village reeked of whale oil, signifying great wealth.

Their ownership of land is based on the Nuu-chah-nulth laws of hahuu?i or ha-houlthee, which means the territory of a nation under the stewardship of a hawilth (King).

Eventually, Tseshaht lands included the hahuu?i of the assimilated groups in the Broken Group Islands, central Barkley Sound, much of Alberni Inlet, and the Alberni Valley.


Tseycum First Nation, Tsay-come

North Saanich, Vancouver Island, BC

Tseycum is one of the four Saanich villages of Southern Vancouver Island, they are at the center of Patricia Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. In the Sencoten language, Tseycum is spelled Wsikem and means Land of Clay.

Tseycum is self-governed and offers assistance to its members and guests by way of Health, Youth, Elder, Community, Employment and Financial support.


Uchucklesaht Tribe, U-chuck-le-satd

Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC

Uchucklesaht Tribe has 299 Uchucklesaht enrollees/citizens, 3 living in the village of Ehthlateese and 296 living away from the village of Ehthlateese.

Location. The Uchucklesaht Tribe has two villages that are situated approximately 24 miles down the Barkley Sound, southwest from Port Alberni. The first village is immediately past the Uchucklesaht Inlet on the West side of Barkley Sound, named "Cowishulth". The second village is located at the head of Uchucklesaht Inlet and is named "Hilthatis".


Ucluelet First Nation

Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, BC

The Yuu?u?i??at? Government is a modern treaty government located in the community of Hitacu, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the eastern shore of Ucluelet Inlet.

Yuu?u?i??ath? (people of the safe harbour) have lived along Vancouver Island’s west coast for thousands of years. Yuu?u?i??ath? is made up of the families from 9 different villages and is one of the Nuu-chah-nulth nations. Today the main village is atHitacu. Families of Yuu??u??ath? followed a seasonal round in order to harvest resources in their territories; spring was herring spawn season, and summer was drying fish season. The Nahmint River was Yuu?i??ath?’s major salmon resource.

They were fishers and whalers. Salmon was the most sustainable resource and was often harvested in large numbers in the fall and stored for the winter months. Herring and salmon roe, cod, halibut, sardines, and herring were also major fish resources. Seafood was a main staple for the Yuu?u?i??ath? such as seals, sea lions, whales, sea urchin, crab, clams, mussels, and oysters. Other food that was commonly used was deer, bear, elk, wild plants and roots. Many foods were preserved using techniques such as drying and smoking.


We Wai Kai First Nation, Wee-way-kay

Quathiaski Cove, Vancouver Island, BC

The We Wai Kai Nation/Cape Mudge Band current population is approximately 1100 Citizens, about 1/2 live on reserve (split between Cape Mudge Village and Quinsam Reserve), and the other 1/2 live off reserve.

The Nation has 5 designated reserve lands covering 685 hectares (

Village Bay, Open Bay, Drew Harbour, Cape and Quinsam, located within the city limits of Campbell River.

Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Wee-way-come

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

The Campbell River First Nation (Wei Wai Kum) is the band government of one of the component groups of the Laich-kwil-tach or Southern Kwakiutl subgroup of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, based at the city of Campbell River. They are part of the Hamatla Treaty Society.

The Wei Wai Kum (pronounced “wee-why-kum”) Nation is one of several Liqwiltokw groups who share a common history and the language Lik’wala. The other groups are the We Wai Kai First Nation (Cape Mudge Indian Band) and the Kwiakah First Nation.

In Lik’wala, the word Liqwiltokw (pronounced “lee-kwill-tah”) refers to a large sea worm that cannot be easily killed. If it is cut up, the separate pieces survive and swim away. The term, therefore, means “un-killable thing” and likely refers to their history and reputation as a strong Nation.


Wuikinuxv First Nations, Owikeno

Owikeno Lake, Northern BC

The Wuikinuxv Traditional territory has a long and rich cultural history. The Wuikinuxv people were of high rank within the Hamatsa society and were sought after as mates. The Hamatsa dance society originated in Wuikinuxv and spread across the coast through marriage. Many people recognize some of the known songs and dances as holding their origins from Wuikinuxv territory.

The Wuikinuxv people built the House of Nuakawa, their new big house, in 2005. Since then they’ve had many feasts, potlatches, community gatherings, funerals and General Assemblies within its walls. The building of the big house has been a source of strength and pride for the Wuikinuxv people. It has lead to a revival of interest in the Potlatch culture.

The Wuikinuxv Nation has been here since time immemorial. Our people were here, under various names since time began. An archaeologist has found settlements in the area that are 10,000 years old. What is now Wuikinuxv, is an amalgamation of many settlements that had their permanent villages in the lake and Koeye and on Calvert Island. The contact brought the Nations disease, conflict, and a different economic climate. It introduced money as the currency of the day instead of trade-able goods.

As a result of these events, many of the populations of the different Peoples in the Rivers Inlet area left their settlements on the outer coast and joined up with other settlements, who were going through the same problems, including Wuikinuxv.