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Bellabella Tribe

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Bellabella Indians, Bellabella People, Bellabella First Nation (an Indian corruption of Milbank taken back into English). The popular mame of an important Kwakiutl tribe living on Milbank sound., British Cololumbia. Their septs or subtribes are

  • Kokaitk
  • Oetlitk
  • Oealitk

The following clans are given:

  • Wikoktenok (Eagle)
  • Koetenok (Raven)
  • Halhaiktenole (Killerwhale)

Pop. 330 in 1901.

The language spoken by this tribe and shared also by the Kitamat, Kitlope, China Hat, and Wikeno Indians is a peculiar dialect of Kwakiutl, called Heiltsuk from the native name of the Bellabella. These tribes resemble each other furthermore in having a system of clans with descent through the, mother, derived probably , from their northern neighbors, while the Bellacoola and Kwakiutl to the south have paternal descent. Anciently the Bellabella here very warlike, a character largely attributable to the fact that they wore flanked on one side by the Tsimshian of Kittizoo and on the other by the Bellacoola, while war parties of Haida from the Queen Charlotte islands were constantly raiding their coasts. For this reason, perhaps, the peculiar secret societies of the north west coast, the most important of which evidently had their origin in war customs, first arose among them. When voyagers first began frequenting the north Pacific coast, Milbank island., which offers one of the few good openings into the inner ship channel to Alaska, was often visited, and its inhabitants were therefore among the first to be modified by European contact. Together with the other Heiltsuk tribes they have now been Christianized by Protestant missionaries, and most of their ancient culture and ritual have been abandoned.


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