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Bellabella Indians of Canada

Bellabella. An Indian corruption of the word Milbank taken back into English. Also called:  

  Elk·ba´sumH,
  Bellacoola name.
  He´iltsuq, own name.
  Milbank Sound Indians, popular name.

Connections. Dialectically the Bellabella were closely related to the Kwakiutl south of them and more remotely to the Nootka of the west coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery, Washington, the whole constituting the Wakashan linguistic family.

Location. The coast of British Columbia from Rivers Inlet to Douglas Channel inclusive.

Subdivisions

Haisla Dialect:  
  Kitamat, on Douglas Channel.
  Kitlope, on Gardiner Canal
 
Heiltsuk Dialect:  
  Bellabella proper, embracing the Kokaitk on the north shore of Milbank Sound,
  Oealitk on the south shore of Milbank Sound, and the Oetlitk on the middle section of Milbank Sound.
  China Hat, on Tolmie Channel and Mussel Inlet.
  Nohuntsitk, at the lower end of Wikeno Lake.
  Somehulitk, at the north end of Wikeno Lake.
  Wikeno, on Rivers Inlet.

Villages

The Wilkeno had the following, all with one possible exception, on Rivers nlet:
Niltala
Nuhitsomk
Somhotnechau
Tlaik
Tsiomhau
Wikeno
 

History. Bodega and Maurelle passed along the coast occupied by the Bellabella in 1775, and they were immediately afterward visited by English and American explorers and traders. The Hudson's Bay post of Fort McLoughlin was established in their territory in 1833, but the foundation of Victoria in 1843 probably had greater influence on the lives of these people. The traders were soon followed by missionaries and permanent white settlers.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1780 there were 2,700 Indians of the Bellabella group. In 1906 there were 852.

Connection in which they have become noted. These people are interesting as exhibiting an apparent replacement of a patrilineal system of descent by a matrilineal system.

The Indian Tribes of North of America, by John Swanton, 1953

Canadian Indians


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