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Nooksak and Nootka Indians of Canada

Nooksak. A tribe, living mainly in the State of Washington, which is said to have branched of from the Squawmish of British Columbia. (See Washington)

Nootka. Significance unknown. The name was originally applied to a tribe also known as Mooachaht living at Nootka Sound but was afterward extended to all of the tribes of the same group even including the Makah of the State of Washington, though the latter are more often treated independently. (See Makah under Washington.) Also called:

Aht, from the endings of their divisional names.
Tc'eca´atq, Skokomish name.

Connections. The Nootka constituted one of the two great branches of the Wakashan linguistic family, the other being the Kwakiutl.

Location. All the Nootka are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Cook on the north to beyond Port San Juan, except the Makah and Ozette, who live about Cape Flattery, in the State of Washington.

Subdivisions or Tribes

Ahousaht, about Clayoquot Sound.
Chaicclesaht, on Ououkinsh and Nasparte Inlets.
Clayoquot, on Meares Island and Torfino Inlet.
Ehatisaht, on Esperanza Inlet.
Ekoolthaht, on Barclay Sound.
Hachaaht, on or north of Barclay Sound.
Hesquiat, on Hesquiat Harbor.
Kelsemaht, on Clayoquot Sound.
Klahosaht, north of Nootka Sound.
Kwoneatshatka, toward the north end of Vancouver Island.
Kyuquot, on Kyuquot Sound.
Makah, about Cape Flattery.
Manosaht, at Hesquiat Point.
Mooachaht, on the north side of Nootka Sound.
Muchalat, on Muchalat Arm of Nootka Sound.
Nitinat, on the tidal lake of Nitinat near the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.
Nuchatlitz, on Nuchalitz and Esperanza Inlets.
Oiaht, on Barclay Sound.
Opitchesaht, on Alberni Canal, Somass River, and neighboring lakes.
Pacheenaht, on San Juan Harbor.
Seshart, on Barclay Sound and Alberni Canal.
Toquart, on the north shore of Barclay Sound.
Uchucklesit, on Uchucklesit Harbor, Barclay Sound.
Ucluelet, at the north entrance of Barclay Sound.


Exclusive of the Makah and Ozette towns (see Washington), the names of the following Nootka villages have been recorded:

Acous (Chaicclesaht) Mahcoah (Toquart)
Ahadzooas (Oiaht) Mahktosis (Ahousaht)
Ahahsuinnis (Opitchesaht) Nuchatl (Nuchatlitz)
Aktese (Kyuquot) Oke (Ehatisaht)
Carmanah (Nitinat) Pacheena (Pacheenaht)
Cheshish (Muchalat) Tsahahch (Seshart)
Clo-oose (Nitinat) Tsooquahna (Nitinat)
Elhlateese (Uchucklesit) Wyah (Nitinat)
Heshque (Hesquiat) Yahksis (Kelsemaht)
Ittatso (Ucluelet) Yucuatl (Mooachaht)
Kukamukamees (Kyuquot).  

History. Juan de Fuca (1592) is the first white man known to have visited the Nootka country. Fuentes, if he and his voyage be not myths, was among these people, or at least near them, in 1640. Ensign Juan Perez is believed to have anchored in Nootka Sound in 1774, and the next year Bodega and Maurelle passed along the Nootka coasts on their way south. From March to April 1778, Captain Cook was at Nootka Sound, and we owe one of our oldest accounts of the Indians there to him. In 1786 English vessels under Captains Hanna, Portlock, and Dixon visited them and from that time on British and American trading vessels constantly resorted to them, usually calling at Nootka Sound. Between 1792 and 1794 Capt. George Vancouver visited the country. In 1803 the Boston, from the New England port of that name, was destroyed by Nootka Indians and all on board killed except two persons, one of whom, John Jewett (1815), has left us an important account of his captivity and his captors. A new era was opened with the settlement of Victoria in 1843 and since then absorption in European culture has gone on apace. The Nootka have been missionized principally by the Roman Catholic Church.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that, in 1780, there were 6,000 Nootka proper and 2,000 Makah. In 1906 there were 2,159 and 435 respectively.

Connections in which they have become noted. The claim of the Nootka to special recognition rests,
(1) on the fact that, with the exception of a few of their neighbors, they were the only Indians on the Pacific coast who hunted whales;
(2) from the part played by Nootka Sound in the early history of the northwest coast.

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

Canadian Indians

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