Tribes of Canada
Hydah Indians of Canada
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Tahltan. Properly, according
to Morice (1904 b), "Thalhthan, a contraction of Tha-sælhthan," from
tha or thu, "water," and saelhthan, a verb that refers to some heavy
object lying thereon, which seems to be confirmed by a myth reported
to Emmons (1911), though some of the older people told the latter it
was from a foreign tongue; some, however, derived it from "thalla-a,
point, the first living place on the rocky tongue of land between
Stikine and Tahltan Rivers; and still others claim that it
originated from the exhibition or giving away of a piece of steel,
thal, by a chief at a great feast given at this point in early days,
in celebration of the bringing out of his daughter."
Connections. The Tahltan belong to the Athapascan linguistic
family, and have usually been classed with the Nahane, but we follow
Jenness (1932) in treating them separately.
Location. In the drainage basin of Stikine River down to the
mouth of Iskut River, Dease Lake, and Dease River halfway to McDane
Creek (though anciently the head of Dease Lake was not in their
territory), the northern sources of the Nass and some of the
southern branches of the Taku in Alaska and British Columbia.
|Gikahnegah, a fishing village on the south bank of the
Stikine opposite Nine Mile flat.
Lakneip, a subdivision or village on the upper course of
Tahltan, called by themselves Goontdarshage, the modern
village, 1½ miles northwest of the mouth of Tahltan River.
Teetch-aranee, on the south bank of the Tahltan near its
Thludlin, on Tahltan River some 12 miles above its mouth.
Tratuckka, a fishing village at Nine Mile flat on the
Tsaqudartsee, several miles beyond Teetch-aranee on the rock
ledge separating the Stikine and Tahltan Rivers.
There were some others of which the names have not survived.
History. The Tahltan claim descent from
people from several different directions--the head of the Nass,
Tagish Lake, the headwaters of the Taku, the Liard (or Peace) River,
and also from the coast. Intimate contact with the Whites was
delayed until placer gold was discovered in the river bottom below
Glenora in 1861 when some desultory prospecting began, but constant
contact only followed on the Cassiar gold excitement of 1874. They
suffered in many ways from White contact, particularly during the
smallpox epidemics of 1864 and 1868.
Population. Mooney (1928) placed the entire Nahane population
including this tribe at 2,000 in 1780. In 1909 there were 229
Connection in which they have become noted. The Tahltan are
noted as a tribe whose organization has been made over by contact
with coastal people.
The Indian Tribes of North of America, by
John Swanton, 1953